The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space



Photo: Mint

Photo: Mint by Michelle Meiklejohn

Photo: Michelle Meiklejohn

“What is that tiny leafed seedling on the kitchen window sill?”
Danny peered at the teeny seedlings.
“It’s mint.”
“It doesn’t seem to be growing at all.”

Following the comments on yesterday’s post I will let you into a secret.

I can’t grow mint.

I know that for most people it is invasive.
“The mint just took over the garden. The roots were a nightmare!”
But not for me. When I moved into the cottage there was quite a lot of mint in the garden. It died out within a year or so. I’ve planted mint in the herb border and dotted about the garden. It looks fine for a while but when I go out to cut some mint the plants have vanished.

Even a very sturdy mint that The Chicken Lady and S gave me – a large soft leaved type struggled to survive and finally died this winter.

I love mint. I want to grow mint. But mint doesn’t like me. So I decided to try growing it from seed. It germinated quickly but it’s not thriving. The parsley, basil, coriander and thyme all are growing well. The mint remains hunched on the kitchen windowsill looking forlorn.

I’m not alone in my misery. I Googled “I can’t grow mint” and discovered that there are at least 8 other people in the world with the same problem. A rare and tiny minority of wannabe mint growers.

This summer I’ll try again and plant it in pots in the ground. I haven’t bothered with pots before. Perhaps the mint couldn’t handle the freedom?

  Leave a reply


  1. I struggled with mint, shop bought and from seed. I then went for a walk along the canal and found wild water mint. I took one small rooted plant, wrapped in a wet napkin.

    This mint now thrives in an old bread crock, it is 40cm wide, 80cm deep and glazed on the inside. The bottom two thirds are filled with soil and the root is deep into this, the crock was then filled about an onch over the soil with water.

    Now I have to pick it regularly so it doesn’t turn woody. This gives me fresh mint tea for about 10 mugs worth every other weekend.

  2. Danette

    hahaha this made me laugh,I cant grow it either,I have killed every mint plant I have gone near. I hear it grows fast,spreads etc etc yet for me I pick it for Pimms yipppe! potatos,sauce,tea everything I can,next thing I am hovering around the plant seeing if theres even ONE leaf I can swipe,then next thing its dead………………
    I outminted another one I howl to the skies!
    GTM x x

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Tamar

    I’m trying growing Brandy Wine tomatoes this year as you did well with them last summer!

  4. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I think this means we were meant to be soulmates in some weird karmic gardening way because, for years and years, mint was the only thing I *could* grow.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Dozenoaks

    We failed miserably with our thyme – it died every winter. Then Danny found a discarded bath in the village and we have grown thyme in it successfully for several years now. The frosty weather killed off one plant – that’s why I’m growing it from seed. Our sage does well in a dry stony border.

    Hi Simon

    That’s really strange. Did you move house?

    Hi Magic Cochin

    We were very lucky. I failed with rhubarb and then someone in the village gave us three healthy plants and they produce rhubarb until the first frosts.

    I’m going to try your slab idea. Thanks very much for the tip!

    Hi LindaM

    Bad luck about the chives! Up until now I’ve planted mint in stony dry places so perhaps I’ve just been too unkind to it.

    Hi Allotment Blogger

    Welcome to the wanagrowmint club!

    Hello Heather

    I grow Basil in pots in the greenhouse and it does well. But if I bring it into the cottage it keels over. Egged on by you I’ll try mint in a pot this year too.

    Hi Cookie Girl

    That’s interesting. We failed with parsley too until Danny got the herb bath. Parsley likes a lot of water so we just water the parsley and the thyme is left alone. We protected the parsley with cloches this winter and it has survived.

    Hi Danast

    Try growing it in the greenhouse. Mine was a success last year.

    Hi Belinda

    I’m so envious 🙁

    I don’t think that basil would survive in the ground here as it would be eaten by pests.

    I’m sorry but I didn’t get your email – could you possibly send it again.

    Hi Freya

    Our oregano does very well and self seeds everywhere to!

    Hi Bib

    Bad luck about the sage. Ours grows well – just the ordinary one. Danny hates sage so it will be going into the posies!

    Hello Delbee

    That’s interesting. Thyme only worked for us when we put it in the herb bath. It died in pots and in the ground and I so wanted a little thyme hedge.

    We grow rosemary in a large pot and rarely water it. I’m amazed that it survives.

    Hi Cara

    Bad luck on the mint front. I’m determined to crack this problem. Perhaps this summer I’ll be lucky 🙂

  6. My mint never seems to thrive either, and already I can see my plant looking less than healthy! I’m so tempted to just plant it in the ground rather than it’s pot, though I’m not sure that would help much.

  7. I planted some mint two years ago in a bucket in my raised bed in a vain attempt to stop it spreading. No chance. I am going to have to dig out the whole bed and gravel path. I can’t grow sage or thyme though. It must be the heavy cheshire clay soil. Rosemary does well in a large pot which I don’t water at all.

  8. For me, it’s sage. I just can’t keep a sage plant alive. I’ve tried all different varieties, in all sorts of settings, and the end result is always the same – a few good months, a gentle decline and then sudden death. It’s even happened here in Croatia; soon after arriving I bought pots of thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano. Guess which one turned up its toes.

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