Description of the mint plant.
Mint is a stoloniferous herbaceous perennial that has rhizomatous roots that grow deep into the soil. It is a polymorphic genus, that is to say that it has a fairly variable appearance from one species to another. Its stem, generally branched with a quadrangular section, is 30 centimeters to one meter long and can have a color ranging from green to purple. Its leaves, in almost all species, have well-known essential oil-rich glands that give it its characteristic aroma. The leaves have a simple shape, they are of a more or less intense green, they are opposite and usually lanceolate and covered with a light down, the flowers have inflorescences arranged both in the head and in the spiastro, c ‘that is to say a set of flowers in an ‘axil of leaves crowned with knots and fairly close together, so much so that it resembles an ear of wheat. The flowers are lobed like the whole mint family.
How to grow mint
The cultivation technique for mint is quite simple. In fact, the mint plant does quite well in various climates and can be found in both Alaska and Kenya. It is certainly most often found where the spring is quite wet and cool, while the summer is dry and hot. Therefore, it can grow in both full sun and shade, but very large locations favor the formation of essential oils as well as long days with many hours of light. Mint can be grown safely both in pots and in the ground. Mint certainly requires regular and very generous watering, especially in summer. It is absolutely important not to wet the leaves when watering, because the evaporation of the water causes them to lose essential oils. The soil must be fertile, porous, pH neutral and draining, because mint does not like stagnant water. Avoid heavy, clay soils. Since mint needs organic substances, it is advisable to renew the soil every 2 or 3 years, also because it is long-lived and grows a lot. It is recommended to use a clay pot that allows the soil to breathe.
The multiplication of the mint plant.
Mint seeds have a low germination capacity and multiply by reproducing their parts, by cuttings from the vegetative apices or by stolons. The vegetative tips are harvested in March. They should be cut with a sharp, sanitized knife to avoid fraying or possible tissue infections. The leaves are removed from the bottom, and the cut branch is immersed in the rhizogen powder to facilitate rooting. Then the cuttings are placed in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts. With a stick, holes are made in which the cuttings are placed, and the soil is gently compacted. Cover the pot with transparent plastic and place it in the shade, keeping the soil moist: water without wetting the rooted plant. Every day, remove the plastic, check the moisture and eliminate condensation. When the shoots come out, remove the plastic and place the pot in the light. Reproduction by runners is carried out on seedlings at least 1 year old: the runners are taken in the spring and then planted in the ground or in pots at 10 o 15 centimeters deep.
Cultivation of mint: the aromatic and gastronomic properties of mint
Peppermint is known for the essential oils present in the glands under the epidermis of each leaf, ranging from 0.3-0.4% up to 1%. Each species of mint produces a different essence and some species are more appreciated than others, such as Mentha piperita, thanks to the oils of higher value: it synthesizes an oil composed of 50% or 60% of menthol and menthol, a ketone, 9% or 12%; it also contains pulegone and other derivatives, resinous and bitter substances, etc. The quantity of essential oils is influenced by temperature: the higher their production, the higher the temperature. It is precisely the essential oils that give mint its aromatic properties. Mint is used as an aromatic plant all over the world for cooking. In general, mint is not used because it has too strong an aroma.