Mint (Mentha) is one of the most popular herbs due to its excellent aroma and wonderful flavor. This herb spreads profusely and is an easy herb for beginners to grow. It is a perennial and is easily recognizable by its sweet aroma and square stems.

Preparing for Growth:

Mint is not particular regarding the soil it is grown in or the amount of light it acquires. Mint thrives on ample amounts of water and actually grows from underground runners.

You will want to mix your soil with a great deal of compost but stay away from manures. Manures will cause weeds and weeding is extremely difficult within a mint patch.

Planting:

Even though many opt to grow mint from seeds, it is advisable to select small plants instead. Choosing small plants will give you the ability to select a specific variety. Mint should be planted 1 to 2 feet apart from each other and mulch in order to retain enough moisture. If you have older mint plants, they can be divided every four to five years.

As mint will take over your garden, it's a good idea to actually plant them in a container that is sunk into the soil approximately 10 inches deep.

Harvest Time:

The best time to harvest mint is in the morning before dew evaporates. In order to dry the mint, cut the stalks above the first set of leaves as soon as buds appear. Hang them upside down in a dark, dry and well ventilated room. They should remain there for approximately 2 weeks or more. Mint can be harvested quite often for your enjoyment.

Diseases and Insects:

Mint is highly vulnerable to fungal diseases. Remove the infected leaves by hand and apply an organic fungicide when fungus first appears.

Aphids, flea beetles, spider mites and cabbage loopers are common pest ailments for mint. You should apply a natural pesticide to prevent further infestation and damage.

Seed Harvest:

Harvesting can begin once the blooms start turning brown and dry and the heads are completely dry. Very gently crush them between your hands and carefully fan away the debris.

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Growing Mint Hydroponically:

Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil and is replaced with a special mixture and nutrient water system. The water system supplies the roots with needed nutrients regularly.

You can purchase hydroponic kits at your local gardening center that specializes in hydroponic gardening or online. For those with limited space, these systems are ideal. They take up less room than other gardening venues and produce healthy produce. Due to their versatility, they can be used both indoors and outdoors. As mint loves water and requires plenty of it, this is the perfect plant for hydroponic systems. Mint is also extremely easy to grow making it ideal for the beginner as maintenance is light once its been planted.

What you need to grow mint hydroponically:

Getting Up and Running:

Place the soilless growing medium into the growing kit and follow the directions that came with the kit. Each kit can vary, thereby needing a particular medium. Sand, perlite and peat are only a few soil-less mixtures available.

Next, prepare the nutrient solution and water mixture, then add it to the kit. The brand and strength of the nutrient solution can vary as different solutions require different nutrient ratios. Again, follow the directions supplied with the kit.

Place the mint plants into the kit. Although it is best to purchase seedlings that have been rooted in soilless mixtures, do not remove the planting medium from the roots of the plants. Place the mint plants in separate containers as ideally each plant should be separate.

Ideally, the kit should be placed in full sun. You can place the mints outside during the summer months and then in cooler weather move them inside. Place the hydroponic system under a grow lamp for approximately 12 to 16 hours daily for ideal growth.

Summary:

Hydroponic systems are an excellent alternative to outdoor gardening. You can enjoy numerous herbs and vegetables year round without the hard labor entailed with a garden.