Twisted mint

Blackened basilI began the garden cleanup process on Sunday afternoon, starting with the easy stuff: the pots of dead basil. The plants came right up like good little soldiers, giving up their spot in the earth at the appropriate time.

Then I moved over to the pot of mint. Similarly, its leaves were brittle and brown, burned to a crisp by the hard freeze that moved through the area recently. The center of the plant had died away, exposing, once again, the root ball I exposed over the summer when I cut back the whole thing and let it restart its growth process.

I tried pulling on some of the stalks to see if the plant would come up as easily as the basil. No luck. Here and there, I managed to pull up a root or two, but the harder I pulled, the clearer it became that this was going to require the spade.

I pulled out the spade and began hacking away at the dirt. It was like chopping rock with a hairbrush, and about as effective.

Out came the shovel. I stuck it in the pot, pushed down on the top of the blade with my heel, and did nothing more than knock the pot off-balance.

I gave up and left my tools on the sidewalk while I worked on some other parts of the garden.

Later, when Steve came outside, I asked him if he’d help me work on the mint.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s stupid,” I said. “It’s all overgrown and rootbound and tangled in there, and I need help getting it out.”

Twisted mint roots“Why don’t we just dump the whole thing?” he suggested. “Maybe then we can loosen the roots from within the garbage bag?”

So we dumped it, and everything slid out in a solid chunk, the roots so woven through the dirt that it had created a giant minty plug of dirt.

Because it’s so invasive, it’s not like there was anything else to do but throw the whole thing away. I may give up on growing mint. I love the taste, but I’m not sure it’s worth the tangled mess.

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted this week by Fiber of 28 Cooks. Stop by later in the weekend to check out her full round-up!

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7 Responses to “Twisted mint”


  1. 1 katie October 28, 2006 at 9:02 am

    I made the mistake of planting 3 kinds of mint (peppermint, spearmint and chocolate mint) in my herb garden. It looks and tastes lovely and I love the smell when I am working in it – fortunately. I seem to spend half of my time cutting runners back and digging it out of my paths. Apparently 2 feet of space is not nearly enough to isolate it….we learn.

  2. 2 Lydia October 28, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    Yes, it’s invasive and messy, but in the middle of winter, when I go to buy mint at the grocery store and realize how sorry it looks compared with my glorious mint of summer, I remember that despite all the hassle, it’s still great to have mint in the garden!

  3. 3 inadvertentgardener October 28, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Katie, everyone I have consulted always says to keep mint in the pot. Otherwise, it’ll run all over your yard!

    Lydia, that’s true…the store-bought “fresh” mint is always so tired and nasty…even slimy at times. It’s pretty foul stuff. And I did really enjoy using it this summer. Maybe I’ll feel more generous toward the mint by the time it’s time to plant. :-)

  4. 4 Kalyn October 29, 2006 at 10:24 am

    Please don’t give up on growing mint. I have mine in a strip along the side of the garden, with one of those plastic borders you pound into the ground to keep it from creeping over into the rest of the garden. I still have to pull out a few roots each year, but otherwise it’s not bad. In a pot, you should be able to just cut it off at the end of the summer and the roots in the pot should come back to life again in the spring just fine.

  5. 5 inadvertentgardener October 29, 2006 at 10:34 am

    Kalyn, that’s good information to know — I had no idea we could do that. If I’d known, I probably would have done just that, rather than ditching the rootball! That’s OK…I suspect by next year, my frustration will have abated, and I’ll be ready to plant it once again.

  6. 6 sher October 31, 2006 at 1:25 am

    I agree!! Don’t give up on the mint. You’ll be so happy when you have it at the ready, to put in recipes or in a nice cool drink. Ahh, the smell of it.

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener October 31, 2006 at 7:29 am

    Sher, I know…I know…you guys are so right….


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