Spearmint: A Popular Flavoring Agent for Sweet and Savory Foods

Spearmint is a perennial aromatic herb which can be used fresh or dried to bring out the optimum flavor in foods.

The herb is known for the classic "mint julep" and all kinds of savory dips, meat dishes, grilled lamb, sauces, vegetables, salads, and fruit compotes. It is also used to flavor and garnish beverages such as iced tea and makes an excellent herbal tea when dried.

It is used in the commercial industry to flavor various kinds of confectionery products, including chewing gum, many different kinds of baked goods, candies, ice cream, and liqueurs.

It is a very invasive plant that sends out underground shoots that form new plants.

For this reason, the container is the perfect solution to keep this plant under control.  This herb makes an attractive container plant that grows to a height of 12-24 inches.

How to Grow Spearment Indoors

Starting by seeds: You can buy prepackaged herb kits with everything you need to start by seed. Sow seeds shallowly (1/4" deep) in light soil that is rich in organic matter in small pots or starter trays. Keep plants in moist clean soil and place in a warm, well-lit area of the kitchen.

Starting by transplants: You can purchase young potted plants at the garden center or you can buy them through a catalog. Then repot your plants into a larger pot that is at least 6" - preferably terracotta/clay. You must repot them within a week to prevent plants from becoming root-bound, resulting in stunted growth.

Soil: You must use a well-drained soil mixture that contains equal parts soil, sand, and peat moss. Always use a commercial potting mix that is sterilized and not yard dirt.

Watering: Water by thoroughly drenching plants, let water drain out and empty. Do not leave plants standing in water because this will cause the roots to rot. Water again when the top soil layer dries out.

Lighting: Give the plant good light, a sunny south or west-facing window that gets a minimum of six hours of sun a day, or supplement with 12 hours of artificial light.

Fertilizer: Apply monthly with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion. keep at a temperature around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a little cooler at night.

Containers: Terra-cotta pots are ideal for this herb, but you can use any kind of container you like. Containers should be 8 to 10 inches deep and have several holes in the bottom for drainage.

Harvesting: Pick leaves as needed by removing from the top of the plant. This will encourage new growth down the stem. Excess leaves can be dried and stored in an airtight container or chopped and frozen inside ice cubes to flavor drinks. Store frozen cubes in freezer-safe bags. Frozen herbs will retain flavor up to one year and you can have your spearmint when needed.

Click on this link to find books with detailed information on herbs concerning the origin, care, use, and storage. Plus mouth-watering recipes that bring the herbs from the garden to the table. 

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