Starting Business Growing Mint
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Melissa
Posted on: August 06, 2006

How are you? Hope all is well! I have many questions and can’t thank you enough for helping me. First off I’m learning to be a gardener. I have in pots and in the garden over 20 different types of mint plants and 20 types of medicinal/culinary herbs. These are my questions:

1. I want to start a business, selling mint/herb plants organically to people/restaurants etc. Do you have any ideas on how to start up this kind of business, and how to get an AG license? I have a posting on craigslist and have sold many mints to people already.

There is no requirement that I am aware of for an "AG" (agriculture) license to grow herbs in any American or Canadian jurisdiction. People in the business of growing herbs commercially come from all imaginable backgrounds with little or much training.

For this kind of business you will likely want a greenhouse if you don’t already have one. Here are some previous postings on this subject:

http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Commercial/20020201-1.html http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Commercial/19990523-1.html http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Commercial/20000507-1.html http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Commercial/19990213-1.html

2. Do you know a cheaper method that I can buy all kinds of mint/herb plants, soil etc from a wholesaler? Most of what I have and sell, I bought online from papagenos as starter plants that cost me $5.00 a plant?

Of course, many herbs can be started from seeds and usually you cannot beat the low cost of starting plants that way. In the case of mint, however, you cannot propagate the superior varieties from seeds: you must take cuttings from mother plants or you must buy plugs from a plug grower and pot up the plugs. Richters sells seeds and plugs.

3. Is it better to grow my mint plants in pots or in the soil; and which type of soil and fertilizer, food etc is needed for a good healthy plant?

This depends on what you are growing. You mentioned that you want to grow your plants organically. This is difficult to do well in pots; and is much easier to do in the ground. On the other hand, if you are selling mint plants you will likely be best off growing in pots because of the ease of handling potted plants compared to the old fashioned way of digging up plants from the garden and wrapping them in wet newspaper. But organic fertilizers and pest controls are a challenge for pot plants for a variety of reasons. Because organic growing is much easier in properly-prepared fields there is some logic to growing everything in the field and reverting to the old-fashioned technique of digging to sell plants -- provided your volume of plants is small.

4. I bought 5 Corsican mint starter plants, and transplanting them in a clay pot and they all died on me. Is there a trick to that mint?

Corsican mint suffers when exposed to heat. The heat wave that has engulfed much of North America in the past weeks has been very hard on corsican mint. It is important to water throughly, not just on the soil surface, and often during heat waves.

5. I’m originally from Israel, live now in Illinois, and there is a tea that grows wild, only in Israel called "Louisa" and the other one is "sheeba". Have you ever heard of it? And if you have, how can I get the seeds to grow them?

These names are not familiar to us.

6. I spent so much money on buying root hormone powder to clone the stems of my mints and it never seems to work for me -- any ideas?

It is important to cut your stem cuttings immediately below a left node. If you cut between leaf nodes then rooting will be much less of a success. Mints are so prolific that you really don’t need rooting hormone. In any case, rooting hormones will endanger your organic status as almost all commercial products are chemically based. The only non-chemical product that we are aware of is our "Root-A-Maker" product.

I have so much more to ask, but you’ll need a bottle of aspirin! (joke). I greatly appreciate your help!!!

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