Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Plant Profile: Mint

By Nina Berryman

“The smelle rejoiceth the heart of man.” - Gerard
Many of you have been taking advantage of the U-Pick herbs. The reason they have just now become available is that we recently transplanted some perennial herbs along the fence line, giving them more room to grow. They were previously in the hoop house by the driveway, but with winter coming we needed to clear that space out and make room for crops that we want to grow under the protection of the plastic when the weather gets colder. One herb that we have in abundance is mint. Mint, Mentha (this is the genus, it has about 25 species and hundreds of varieties), is in the Lamiaceae family, along with sage and basil. Mints have many medicinal properties. Perhaps the most well known property is that it is a digestive aid. If you have an upset stomach, try mincing fresh mint leaves and putting them in hot water; add some honey if you have a sweet tooth. Mint is also a stimulant (temporarily quickens vital processes in the body), a carminative (expels gas from the intestines), an antispasmodic (relieves and/or stops spasms and cramps), a diuretic (increases flow and secretion of urine) and a febrifuge (reduces fever). It is also an ingredient in many toothpastes, soaps and skin lotions. Plants in the mint family have been valued since ancient times, being referenced by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Mint, anise and cumin were actually a tithe paid by the Pharisees. It is an especially hardy herb, as it spreads easily and is difficult to contain once it is established. This is the idea behind planting it where we did- along a weedy fence line where the knotweed is especially aggressive. We’re waiting to see which one will win!

Ashworth, Susan, Seed to Seed. Seed Savers Exchange Inc. Iowa. 2002.
Dawson, Adele G., Herbs, Partners in Life. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, Vermont. 2000.
Wikipedia. 4 October 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha

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