Growing plants at home is such a fun little hobby, and it doesn't have to be all-consuming. People love to joke that they have a brown thumb or a dead thumb instead of that coveted green thumb; it can be hard to know what to do (oh, you weren't born with a mother's intuition for squash plants?!) and frustrating when a plant withers in your care. I'm a novice grower, but I've had good success in my windowsill garden. I thought I'd start a little series to demystify growing some common plants. Let's start with a plant that can withstand lots of ill-treatment: mint!
-Sun: Full sun or partial sun both work well. If your mint has been in a dimly lit area for awhile and doesn't seem to be thriving, consider moving it for a week to see if it perks up.
-Water: A friend of mine described it as "thirsty" species. Anthropomorphizing my mint in that way has helped me remember to water it frequently. Drench the soil anytime it looks or feels dry, likely every day or every two days. If your plant still isn't thriving, these troubleshooting tips have helped me out more than once.
-Care: Mint doesn't need much, other than the aforementioned. If it seems to be overgrowing its pot, snip off a few of the stems near the soil. Strip off the leaves to use fresh within a week, or dry them for later (not as hard as it seems--just pluck the leaves from the stems, stick the leaves on a plate on your counter, and wait!).
-Types: The photographs above are of my spearmint plant, which makes a tasty and calming tea but isn't so versatile otherwise. A friend passed along her chocolate mint plant to me, and the surprising taste and aroma makes it a fun plant to have around. A good place to begin is with peppermint, which has a more neutral taste and is consequently more versatile in recipes.
-Uses: Pluck off a few leaves and pour hot water over them for a thick, flavorful tea. Other great uses include: mojitos, mint pesto, homemade ice cream or sorbet. It can be tossed into salads, or added to marinades--if you do, in fact, make marinades. I don't, so if you do (you culinary whiz, you), won't you drop me a line and tell me how it goes?