Friday, August 1, 2014

Fun with Herbs Harvesting - Mints

The weather has stopped raining (everyday) so that I can actually harvest herbs.  I have been making vinegar, bundling and hanging herbs and cooking with fresh herbs.  It has been glorious. the herbs with the best overall growth this year seem to be the mints.  I am not always kind to my mints as they can take over a garden if given the chance, but this year they are actually fighting back.

Mojito Mint
The second year for Mojito Mint and I love the flavor.  Not as much of it gets harvested for preservation as gets used to make regular and virgin Mojitos.  It is also great fresh in lemonade and tossed with fruit in salad. I find I like this mint for the ways I use it fresh rather than dry.

The mints I have these year are spending a lot of time sending out runners rather than making seed which says something about this summer being different.

I've been clipping them off, but you can see the dark stems coming from the bottom of the plant that look like twigs.  These will take root and produce upright branches if you let them.

This year I grew a new mint, Kentucky Colonel. The leaf color is similar to lemon balm and the habit is very bushy.  and tall.  the flowers are almost brush shaped.  They are easy to harvest with the long upright stems and the deep veining allows them to dry very quickly even on a humid day.  The flavor is not as strong as spearmint, making it a nice addition to a salad and I intend to use it in cucumber salad, and basil pesto in the coming weeks as well.  This one also sends out runners and it takes a lot of moisture from the ground.  It is planted near a tri-color sage and I think it is stunting the sage's growth.

The Lemon Balm has had a stellar year.  It was the first plant I was able to harvest this year.  The layers of snow really stunted the spring growth this year.  And as soon as i cut this lemon balm, it grows back more busy than before.  The bright green color is exceptionally bright this year and the scent makes you reach out to stroke the leaves every time you pass.

This spearmint plant, which is different variety than what i have in my garden, came from the community patch I have in Elmhurst. This volunteer was in the patch next to mine and I rescued it before it was removed as a weed.  the dark ribs and dark stems make  it a kin to black stem peppermint, but the fragrance is very spearmint.  I am looking forward to seeing how the color looks when dried for winter arrangements.

dark stem spearamint
Here is the black stem peppermint and you can see the similarities.  However the peppermint is not as deeply edge serrated and the flowers are not as dark in shade.  I am now very curious and will go searching for a species name as I think this mint is a keeper!

black-stem peppermint

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