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Grow Some Refresh-mint

Among all of the herbs I grow, mint requires absolutely the least amount of care. In fact, it grows so prolifically, it could overrun the garden! Peppermint has many helpful qualities: it’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, reduces nausea and has a calming scent.

I grow two main varieties, spearmint and peppermint. You can easily tell them apart by their distinct aromas and by their stems and leaves. Spearmint has a broader leaf, its stem seems to be a bit greener and the leaves are more crinkled. Peppermint on the other hand has a narrower leaf and its stems are a bit redder.

Over time, you may find that your plants can become tall and spindly. If this happens, just cut them back. I use scissors, but if you have a larger plot you can mow it with a lawn mower. This will cause the plants to produce lots of new tender shoots, where you’ll find the best flavor.

To keep peppermint from invading your garden, keep in containers or plant in a bottomless plastic nursery pot that is at least 10 inches tall. The aggressive underground stems will be confined within the container, and you’ll have plenty of fresh mint for tea, lotions and infusions.

Five uses for peppermint:

1. Breath freshener: Mix a few drops of peppermint oil and lemon oil in water to make a mouth rinse.
2. Pick-me-up: Carry a small spray bottle of peppermint oil and water in your car. The scent can perk you up on long drives and freshen the air, too!
3. Muscle aid: Add a few drops to bath water to relax muscles and clear up congestion
4. Combat nausea: Rub a few drops of peppermint or spearmint oil on your wrists or neck (like perfume) to ward off nausea
5. Bug repellent: If you rub a Q-tip soaked in peppermint oil onto a tick’s head, it will let go. Other household bugs don’t like peppermint, either. So, use peppermint oil on a doorway to keep ants from entering.

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