My Potager Garden and Everything Peppermint.
Seed starting season is here! I love gardening and survive the winter months by browsing obsessively through seed catalogs and YouTube videos while planning our spring gardens. I will admit that I spent far more time narrowing down my selection of heirloom tomatoes to the 5 that will fit the space I have allotted for them than any sensible, normal person would have done. Should you drop by my home for a visit this growing season, you would be guaranteed a tour of our little potager garden - whether you are interested in gardening or not. Yes, I'm that kind of person. I believe we all have a connection - a kinship even - to plants, and trees, and gardens, and nature that should be nurtured and promoted for our own well-being.
A potager garden is a fancy french word for a kitchen garden that is both productive and ornamental and typically consists of raised beds that grow a mixture of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. My little potager garden is made of 4 raised beds connected by two arbours, with a herb garden in the centre. The star of my garden is my terracotta strawberry planter, which sits in the middle of the herb garden. Around the planter, I grow lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, and chives. After having such difficulty in selecting 5 tomatoes, I gave myself the question - if I could only grow one herb, what would it be? To my surprise, the answer came easily and quickly - Peppermint. Definitely Peppermint. Here are my reasons:
First & foremost, peppermint, when steeped in hot water, makes a delicious tea that I enjoy most evenings. I use fresh-picked leaves during the growing season and dried leaves throughout the winter. Fresh mint can also be chopped or cut into thin ribbons and added to vegetable or pasta salads, pestos, salsas, sauces, and marinades. You can sprinkle some mint over sliced garden vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, drizzle on a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt for a yummy treat.
The health benefits of peppermint are numerous:
- Soothes upset stomach & irritable bowels
- Helps ease headaches
- Helps heals mouth sores by killing mouth bacterial
- Freshens breath
- Helps fight off the common cold by opening airways to allow easier breathing
- Eases sleepiness and mental fog during waking hours
- Sharpens focus
- Eases intensity & shortens the length of menstrual pain
- Curbs Appetite & aids in weight loss
- Calms seasonal allergies
- Works as an anti-bacterial agent when applied topically.
Peppermint has long been associated with healing, purification, protection, prosperity, and prophetic dreams. Here are some ways you can use peppermint magically:
- You can put some in a sleep sachet to encourage prophetic dreams.
- You can hang it over a sick bed to encourage healing and ward off negative energy.
- You can plant some by your front door to protect your home.
- And you can hang some in your workplace to encourage mental focus and draw forth prosperity & financial success.
EASY TO GROW
Peppermint is incredibly easy to grow. In fact, it is best to keep it in a container or it will spread and take over your garden. I place mine in a terracotta pot which I sink into my herb garden at a level slightly higher than the other plants.
Peppermint is a perennial, which means the leaves and stems will die back in the winter but will sprout again from the earth each spring. It is an incredibly adaptable plant that is not fussy about its growing conditions, although it prefers well-draining, compost-rich soil and a mix of sun and shade.
The ideal time to harvest is just as the plants start to bloom. That’s when the oil concentration – and the flavor – are at their peak. You should harvest early in the day for the strongest flavor. But if you feel like making some mint tea or need a garnish for your chocolate brownies, feel free to pluck a few leaves or stems as you need them. Your plants will grow back quickly enough.
Peppermint can be preserved by drying. Simply secure a few stems together into a bundle and hang upside-down in a dry, dark space. Once thoroughly dried (it takes 1 - 2 weeks), the leaves can be crumbled and placed in a jar for storage in your pantry. Use 1 heaping teaspoon per cup of tea.
If you know of other uses for peppermint leaves or its essential oils, I would love for you to share them in a comment below.
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