Every country has its
favourite herb – in Britain the honours
are shared between parsley and mint. Mint will
thrive in most garden soils – in fact it
usually thrives too well and becomes a nuisance.
Keep it in check by growing in a container, sinking
metal or plastic sheets into the soil around the
plants, or by simply lifting and replanting every
year. There are several types – spearmint
(garden mint) is the usual one, but Bowies mint
is the variety most highly recommended for mint
sauce, and apple mint (round-leaved mint) combines
fragrance with a true minty flavour.
Plant pieces of root 2in (5cm) deep and 9in (23cm)
apart in autumn or spring. Top dress with compost
in autumn if the plants are not lifted annually.
Should mint rust appear (small orange spots on
swollen shoots) lift and burn affected plants.
Plant healthy stock in another part of the garden.
Sprigs of mint are added to the water when new
potatoes and peas are boiled, but its most popular
use is as the basic ingredient in mint sauce or
mint jelly served with roast lamb.