Out of Control Mint!!
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mike and Christi Hursta
Posted on: October 22, 2003

I bought a house that has some type of mint growing in the landscaping. It has propagated with little to no attention and is out of control!! Should I be pulling it up in the fall when everything dies, trimming it back, or letting it go?

First decide where it would be OK to have the mint and dig a trench around the area about 50 centimeters deep and line it vertically with sheet metal or semi-rigid plastic making sure there is a good overlap of the two ends at the point that they meet. Then fill the soil back in. Rip out what you can in the other areas - best after loosening the soil - to get rid of as many of the rhizomes as possible. Leave soil open to allow the frost to kill as many of the loose rhizomes that you missed as possible. Then in spring cover with black plastic. This will cut out light and make the area exposed to the sun very hot and should kill lots of rhizomes underneath it. After this there should not be enough left over to be a big job to dig up and pull as soon as you see a new shoot.

I have found that many mints can’t tolerate ice over the plant in winter. You could make a burm around the infested area (if it does not contain desirable plants) and flood it repeatedly with water in winter so that a big sheet of ice forms on it, hopefully smothering your out-of -control portion of the mint.

Also, how do I know if the leaves are still any good? The last few leaves I’ve pulled for recipes seemed to be a little tough.

Older leaves will get tough and eventually have less flavour than younger leaves. You might want to try a pot of the mint in your sunniest window to get fresh young leaves for recipes calling for chopped leaves. Otherwise brew lots of mint tea in the fall and dry some for winter use! Even the toughest leaves are fine for this.

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