The Cottage Smallholder

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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?

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  1. My mint is running scared of the oregano. Seriously. I swear my oregano has an evil laugh and eyes off everything else as if they’re lunch. Periodically I go in and rip chunks of it up, or trim it with a lawnmower.

  2. Belinda

    Oh Fi.. you can have some of mine… there was a patch under the garden tap when we moved in… gets no sun at all really (maybe midday) and it was going to take over the place so I ripped it out & chucked a pile of it up the side of the shed – near the fence.. another shady spot… I mowed over 1 metre tall mint today up there… we have heaps of rain.

    I cannot grow basil very well… I can buy seeding but I lose at least half & they straggle along them bolt to flower… I get just enough to use in cooking… forget seeds, they germinate but thats it…

    BTW – I sent you a message via the contact button regarding my change of email address last month but I think it may have gotten lost?

  3. Again, I shall soon sow basil seeds. They will come up weak and scrawny and will come to nothing. Oh please let me be wrong this time. My friend made wonderful basil oil last year. I didn’t grow enough to put in a teaspoon!! Hey ho. I just might succeed this year.

  4. Cookie Girl

    I have just thrown away a pot of basil that had ‘given up’ and was not going to be resurrected. I can never grow basil in the garden, nor from seed, nor keep it alive for long it seems. Last year my parsley was stunning but it peaked early, bolted and that was that! I cannot recall if my mint pops up in my herb box every year…will keep an eye out this year – mine is in a large herb box/planter with other herbs, planted in it’s own pot in a sunny, but sheltered (rather than shaded) position. I love going in the garden, stuffing a glass tumbler full of leaves pouring over boiling water and then attacking it with a cocktails stirrer leaving the most wonderful aromatic mint tea. Good luck with it this year Fiona.

  5. Heather

    I have great trouble growing basil in open ground. I have to grow it in pots and then protect it from marauding possums – I live in Sydney.I also had trouble with mint last summer. I ended up having to put it in pots as well, which has been successful

  6. allotment blogger

    All I can say is, you are not alone! I can’t grow mint either, and I’ve just got into the habit of buying a new plant from our local plant sale every year.

  7. I’m like that with chives. Everybody tries to give them away and even if they arrive healthy, they die instantly at the site of me:) Lavender too but I blame that on some unknown best that likes to eat the roots and leave the foliage. Nobody knows what that pest could be though. Maybe for you, its a matter of companion planting? Or maybe your soil is too good? If something grows wild, then I always think that it thrives on neglect. Such some ideas, not factual basis there.

  8. Magic Cochin

    I can’t seem to grow rhubarb in this garden! There’s always something…

    Just thinking where our mint does well – it seems to be near paths and sheltered by the wall. Some in South-West facing bed some East facing around a sunny seat. Maybe the combination of leaves in the sun and roots cool and slightly damp under the paving slabs is the key? Worth a try.


  9. Not sure if this is better or worse, but I used to be able to grow mint… and now it dies. Except for the stuff on the kitchen window ledge, which still grows, but attracts lots of little flies. Grrrr!

  10. dozenoaks

    Well, I can’t grow thyme OR sage in my garden – and I have lost count of the number of those plants I’ve killed (bought grown and from seed). I thought I’d cracked it with a sage last year, but then it turned up it’s toes unexpectedly and was gone…. thyme is even worse. I’ve not managed a healthy mound for more than a few short weeks.

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