By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
You don’t have to be a fan of lamb or mojitos to love the scent and flavor of mint. Having it nearby in the garden attracts bees and allows you to access that zippy aroma and refreshing flavor for teas, seasonings, pest repellent, and even household deodorizing. Growing mint from seed is easy and the little plants really take off once installed in a garden bed. Here are a few tips on starting mint seeds so you can enjoy these fragrant herbs in your landscape.
Mint is a culinary herb of the Mediterranean and Asian regions. It is featured prominently in many recipes from savory to sweet and even in beverages. It is a hardy perennial herb and grows quickly, often becoming invasive. There are over 3,500 varieties with special characteristics which makes variety selection important. Once you have your cultivar, sowing mint seeds at the right time will ensure a big, beautiful crop of this versatile herb.
If you wish to transplant the seedlings outside in spring once soil has warmed, the seeds need to be planted in late winter. In warmer regions, they can be directly sown into prepared garden soil in mid-spring. However, because this is a hardy perennial, they can also be started any time up until two months before the first expected frost.
You can also grow mint in containers and start indoors at any time. The key to growing mint from seed is well-draining soil that mimics the natural soils of the plant’s native region. Mint prefers slightly acidic, moist, rich soil.
You can start sowing mint seed in containers or flats or in prepared garden soil. Sow seeds ¼ inch (6 mm.) deep. The seeds are tiny, but you can space them with a seed injector or simply thin the seedlings once germinated. Expect germination in 10 to 15 days.
Keep flats in a warm location and soil lightly moist but not soggy. A cover over the flat can speed germination. Remove it once you see sprouts. If starting mint seeds outdoors, sow seeds on the surface of prepared soil and cover with a light layer of vermiculite.
Once seedlings have two sets of true leaves, harden them off and plant them into beds or outdoor containers. Once the little plants are ready to transplant, take containers outdoors and let them acclimate for a week to outdoor conditions before moving them.
Water new plants regularly. Ideally, mint needs 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) of water per week during the growing season. Use drip irrigation or water in the morning to allow leaves to dry. Overly wet leaves may lead to fungal diseases.
Apply fertilizer in early spring. A balanced plant food with a 16-16-16 ratio is ideal. Do not over fertilize, as it can diminish oil production and lead to disease issues.
Mint can be aggressive so it may be best to plant it in containers or in an out of the way area of the garden. Alternatively, you can let it ramble around where human contact will release the oils and perfume the area with a heavenly scent.
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Gardening and growing food became increasingly popular during lockdown as more people spent time at home. Now, as spring begins and flowers begin to bloom, Britons are once again heading into the garden. In a podcast for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Alan Titchmarsh shared his tips for keeping and planting seeds.
He explained to the editor of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Lucy Hall the four things plants need to survive.
He said: “Plants need, light, air and moisture and a suitable temperature.
“Write down those four things and then just work out how you can give it to them - even if it’s only a pot.
“It will need light, they can’t grow in the dark.
Alan Titchmarsh shares warning on how to grow plants from seeds - 'there's no going back' (Image: GETTY)
Alan Titchmarsh: “Plants need, light, air and moisture and a suitable temperature" (Image: GETTY)
“You’ll be in charge of water and the food.
“The substrate - the soil that they’re growing in, the compost or whatever.”
Alan added: “Plants want to grow and it’s up to us not to get in the way.”
The gardening expert said “seeds want to grow” but warned that once they’ve been moistened “there’s no going back”.
He continued: “You can’t let them dry out then because the enzymatic process has begun.
“As long as they’re warm and dry and in a packet, they’re okay.
“As soon as you’ve put them in the earth or got water to them, you’ve lit the blue touch paper.
“There’s no stamping that firework out. You can’t go back.
“Then you must try and keep it growing evenly.”
Alan recommended finding a part of your garden where the soil is “good”.
If you don’t have good soil in your garden, then you need to work on making it better with some homegrown or shop-bought compost.
“Work it into the soil, make sure it’s got decent light,” Alan added.
Best tips for watering your garden (Image: EXPRESS)
He also suggested adding a sprinkling of blood, bone and fish meal.
The ground should then be suitable for seeds to grow.
Alan said you can then sow your seeds evenly and not too deeply into the ground.
He also suggested checking the back of seed packets for more advice.
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Want more information? Contact us today, or check out our blog for gardening tips, recipes, and plant spotlights.