A few months ago, I asked my dad to pick up a mint plant on his trip to the grocery store. I had it all planned out: I would obtain mint extract from the leaves, use the extract to make mint chocolate chip ice cream and have an endless supply of mint for all my dessert needs — sweet and simple, or so I thought. Shortly after acquiring my small mint plant, we planted it in our backyard and waited for it to grow. Fast forward to now, and the mint is lush, full and thriving, though I’ve yet to make that ice cream. Although I didn’t use it for my original purposes, I’ve since realized that there are plenty of wonderful reasons why you should add mint to your garden.
Easy to grow
If you’re new to gardening, or taking care of plants in general, mint is the perfect plant to start with. Similar to succulents, mint plants require very little care. Simply plant it in a big pot of dirt, make sure it gets plenty of sunshine and water it once a week! These nifty plants grow quickly and efficiently, and before long, you’ll have a bush full of mint leaves. If left to their own devices, however, these plants have the ability to take over your entire garden. So, be careful not to plant your mint with other plants and give it its own home, separate from the others.
Mint tea is one of the best uses for mint leaves, especially in the summer. Simply pick a few leaves, wash with water and toss them into a pitcher. Fill the pitcher with hot water, let it cool and refrigerate overnight! This drink is easy to make, customizable and can be enjoyed hot or cold. You can add honey, lime, cucumbers and other fruity flavors to create the ultimate cooling beverage. Or, make mint ice cubes to add into your water — instant refreshment on a hot summer day.
Other diverse uses
While homegrown mint is widely used in tea form, there are many other ways to use mint. Spice up your salads by adding in a handful of chopped mint, have some with your Greek yogurt parfait or add some to your basil pesto for a stronger pop of flavor. On the sweeter side, you can make chocolate-dipped mint leaves and mint chocolate chip cookies and ice cream! Mint also serves as a natural insect and flea repellent — perfect for keeping the summer gnats away. Keep fresh mint around the house, and place some in a cloth bag near your pet’s bed. Mint lovers rejoice — the possibilities are truly endless.
As a final cherry on top, mint comes with many health benefits. Mint is full of nutrients, including vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. It can also help relieve stress, aid digestion, boost your immune system and so much more!
Easy to grow, versatile and useful in numerous ways, mint is a mighty little plant indeed. Whether you want to whip up a couple of sweet treats, spice up your savory dishes, fight the insects that have been plaguing your house or relax with a cool drink on a hot day, your freshly grown mint can do it all. And while I don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to gardening, my experience with growing mint has proved that even the clumsiest brown thumb can do it too.
Contact Kristie Lin at [email protected].