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Protect Your Small Kitchen Garden from Mint

Mint Plant

The grower of this mint has prevented potential disaster by restricting the plant to life in a flower pot. Let mint loose in your small kitchen garden, and you may run out of space for vegetables.

Mint is a fascinating plant with a wonderful flavor… but be very cautious about planting it in your small kitchen garden. I’m inspired to share this with you because of a tweet I read from @batesnursery some weeks ago:

Plant mint between cabbages for natural protection from caterpillars and other pests and eventually everything else, except mint

The tweet made me laugh, and it brought to mind a garden I visited last summer. This was a community kitchen garden managed by several people with a variety of gardening sensibilities. One of the gardeners insisted that the garden needed to have mint. They planted mint in one corner.

A Small Kitchen Garden Mint Debacle

By the time I saw this garden, the mint had extended itself from the garden’s corner across the entire length off the garden. There were mint sprouts at various intervals along a line trending North, and other pockets of mint sprouts at apparently random places throughout. The gardeners told me they had already pulled the mint!

So, after a season of growth, and another of mortal combat, the mint continued its campaign to capture all the cultivated space… and the surrounding meadow.

This small, shared kitchen garden is under siege from a little mint plant that overtook the planting bed in the previous season, suffered severe damage at the hands of frustrated gardeners, and has re-emerged to wreak further havoc (that mass in the bottom-left corner of the photo is mint).

Contain Mint While it’s Young

My recommendation concerning mint is simple: don’t plant it in your garden beds. If you must, isolate your mint plants by burying a container and planting within the container. Then, don’t let the mint plants escape from the container! Most prudent of all is to plant mint in containers above ground and somewhat separate from your vegetable beds.

If you love mint, and you recognize its potential to provide top-notch ground cover, by all means put it to work. It’s a gorgeous plant with square stems, regal textures, and delightful aromas. But understand its character, and be prepared. I’ve seen many a kitchen gardener despair at the aggressive assault of advancing mint plants.

Subscribe to Your Small Kitchen Garden Vlog

Your Small Kitchen Garden blog has introduced a video blog titled Visit with the Gardener, in which I share snippets of what’s going on in my garden and/or kitchen. I try to keep the videos under two minutes and provide either useful tips and techniques – or encouragement – for you to try new things in your kitchen gardens.

Please have a look, and jump over to Youtube to subscribe to my channel. Here’s the link to my channel: Your Small Kitchen Garden Vlog. And here’s an example of a recent post on the vlog. Please enjoy:

Some ways to use mint, and more information about growing it:

  • At last, the mojito recipe: pinchy dot org. – After several mojito-making experiments that failed miserably the Mojito Julius, mochajitos, mo-Fritos, and so on I finally mixed some mojitos on Saturday night that were good enough to justify posting the recipe. The instructions are ridiculously detailed, so that you can benefit from all the mistakes I made. (Incidentally, when I got on this mojito kick, I had no idea that it was the it drink of this summer.

  • Recipes What Can I Make with Fresh Mint Leaves – I was craving a Mojito the other day and thought how much fun it would be to grow mint leaves so I could make one for guests. Of course my husband says.

  • How to Grow Mint (Step-by-Step Photos) | Noob Cook Recipes – Detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to grow mint via cuttings. Mint is an easy and fast-growing plant.

  • Grow Mint From Cuttings – Frugal Gardening Tip | The Shoestring … – Grow Mint & Other Herbs from Cuttings from Your Garden or Store Bought Produce. I love to save money in whatever ways I can and being frugal in my gardening pursuits is no exception. So, since I needed some fresh mint …

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16 Responses to “Protect Your Small Kitchen Garden from Mint”

  • Debbie:

    Just wanted to let you know that I planted last week, the paste tomato seeds you sent me and they have all sprouted. Looking forward to making some great sauce with them this summer. Thanks.

  • admin:

    Thank you so much for the update! I hope your seedlings grow strong in your garden, and you have plenty of tomatoes to work with. I encourage you to save seeds so you can plant a paste tomato forest next year!

  • susan:

    As a child I have not so fond memories being a weed soldier in a great mint war. Mine are in pots on my deck. They don’t always survive the winter but at least they don’t wander!

  • I harvested several mint plants from my grandmother’s flowerbeds and wisely put them in a large pot a couple of springs ago. They come back every year, grow several feet tall and smell fantastic! I <3 mint but it really can become a problem.

  • admin:

    Susan: You have learned well! I long ago decided that, though I love mint, I’d rather not invite those pushy plants into my yard. Should my herb garden ever run out of other new ideas, I will consider mint. In a container. On a porch. With no hope ever of propagation in the yard or garden.

    JeninCanada: I love it when I’m walking in a meadow and all the sudden I smell mint… though around here I’m more likely to smell onions. The onions have invaded my yard, and I welcome them. But if I see mint even bat an eye toward my planting beds, there’s going to be trouble!

  • Well I just don’t see it happening. I planted mint on the ground. They’re growing rather slowly and have not shown any signs of spreading. And I wanted them to spread because I wanted to smell mint in the air.

  • Jan:

    I have been using mint as a barrier along the edges of my garden. So far it hasn’t crossed the foot paths to the garden beds. It works great! Beware that lemon grass is worse then mint. My parents are now using the lemon grass patch to stop erosion on their property, lol. There was so much they were able to seperate it and plant it wherever they need to. It works great!

  • Good plan Jan. I want to do the same thing. Just have mint instead of grass. Smells better and it’s edible too!

  • I had a small patch of lemon balm in a corner until my Mom got sick and I ended neglecting my garden for a few years while I took care of her. The lemon balm now taken over half my garden and part of my lawn. It sure smells (and tastes) good, though! LOL

  • admin:

    These last several comments speak to my heart and my mission: I’m eliminating the lawn from my yard. Over the course of ten years, I plant to remove all – or nearly all – of the grass and replace it primarily with food-producing plants. Mint and oregano may play in the transformation, but I’ll be researching edible ground covers to find ones that aren’t overly aggressive about controlling my entire property. I figure that if a ground cover gets out of control, I can slow it down with a little hardscaping.

    Thank you all for visiting and providing insights!

  • You know what’s strange though? I’ve had a couple of mints on the ground for about two months now. I really haven’t seen any sign that they’ll “take over” the garden. Could it be a case of bad soil?

  • admin:

    Chris: After two months, your mint is still reconnoitering: planning its campaign to subjugate your territory. It may already have scouts extending several feet just beneath the soil. Or, maybe your plants are still building strength before they send out their advance tactical teams. Mint can be very sneaky, looking all calm and cooperative. Then, one day, you might discover a dozen or more plants popping up here and there. In loose soil, you might pull one of those plants far from its original headquarters, and as you lift it away from the soil, pull a long root up back to another young plant, and then to another, and so on.

    Mint will do fine in less-than-ideal soil; it grows naturally in meadows without pampering. If you want it to spread faster, however, I’m sure it would be thrilled at a helping of rich compost. But, hey! No two gardens are identical. Maybe your mint will remain civilized. Good luck, one way or the other!

  • Hahaha!! That’s a very funny way of putting it. I’ll let you know if the garden falls prey to a mint coup d’etat.

    You know what? I’ve noticed though that some mints are more aggressive than others.

  • […] Were I managing a community garden, I would enforce the following rule without mercy: PLANT NO MINT IN THE GROUND. If you grow mint on your allotment, do your neighbors a favor and plant the mint in a container tall enough that the plants never touch the ground. This one would pass inspection. I wrote about mint’s aggressive “conquer all” nature here: Protect Your Garden from Mint. […]

  • […] this and this from Small Kitchen Garden for more information about growing […]

  • […] wrote about this garden terror first in an article titled Protect your Small Kitchen Garden from Mint and more recently in the article, More Mint Madness. The recent article included photos of a mint […]

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