Thursday, June 11, 2009

Using and Growing Mints: Peppermint and Spearmint

Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, in fact it can take over a garden, so careful planning is needed before planting. It is perfect for our “less lawn, more garden” project, and is a great healing herb.

Mint likes full sun, but will tolerate some shade. It is easily divided by roots and likes well drained soil. It flowers mid summer (here in zone 5); the honey bees and butterflies love it.

Planted near roses, peppermint and spearmint will deter aphids. Also, it will deter white cabbage moths. Planted around the house, it will help deter ants.

As a tea, mint is unsurpassed. It is helpful for headaches, motion sickness, will increase concentration; it relieves gas, aids digestion, is good for relieving stomach cramps, insomnia and it is even reputed to restore sexual vigor.

The leaves can be used fresh or dried; pick for drying before it flowers.

Mint is said to minimize dark circles under eyes, simply make a strong tea, strain, soak sterilized pieces of gauze (wring well) and apply over closed eyes.

Tie a bunch of sprigs under the faucet while filling the tub for a bath. The scent will fill the room.

To make a “sun tea” fill a glass jar with water, add mint sprigs and let sit in the sun at least 5 hours (we have left ours out a few days), strain the mint, add honey or sweetener of your choice, if desired, and refrigerate.

Mint in Cooking:

Fresh leaves can be chopped and added to fruit salads.

Mint is used for making jellies, flavoring meats, fish and in baking.

To make an herbal vinegar, place a few sprigs in a small bottle of white wine or rice vinegar. Let sit a few weeks for the flavors to combine. Strain herbs, if desired. This makes a nice salad dressing.

Add chopped mint to mashed potatoes, cream cheese dip or fruit punches. It also goes well in chocolate cakes and cookies. Try adding some to vanilla ice cream. Ok, now I’m hungry!

Rain Water Storage for Gardens and Greenhouse

Conserving Water: Rain Water Storage for Gardens and Greenhouse

Conserving water is always on our minds, and watering the garden can be a problem. As mentioned in other writings, we are off the grid and have a small 12 volt water pump. Also, our well is just a 16’ dug well, so the gardens can be a big strain on our well and pump.

This 350 gallon water tank has been a huge help to us. It sits on a trailer so that it can be easily moved. We set it under rain gutters, and then move it up hill from our gardens and greenhouse. Garden hoses are connected to the valve in front and the water is gravity fed to the flowers and vegetables. The pressure is very slow, but it gets the job done and is helping us conserve resources. water storage