How to grow mint without it taking over your whole garden

Mint is one of the essential herbs to have in your garden. However, left to its own devices it will *become* your whole garden. It has an enthusiastic character and strong vigor, meaning it can be everywhere in a blink of an eyelid.

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Mint has shallow roots which move outwards rapidly and send up new shoots of leaf as it goes – it can and will cover many square metres. Often gardeners will combat this challenge by isolating it and putting it into a pot or container to keep it out of the main garden. However through doing so you’re also keeping the plant away from the wonderful world of the soil food web – a world of biology in vast numbers doing all types of important things related to soil and plant health. Generally any plant in a pot needs higher levels of inputs to keep them happy.

We like to avoid extra work/inputs if we can help it… And so we recommend planting your mint in pots AND in the ground. Let us show you what we mean…

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First we rip out a bit of mint from a patch in the garden (or your mate’s garden). You don’t have to be gentle with this plant, as long as you can get a bit of root on it, it will grow – guaranteed.

Then, give it a drastic prune, cutting off most of the leaf and any leggy (tall) stems, this will ensure the plant puts the majority of its energy into establishing good roots over leaf.

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Next up, grab a plastic pot which isn’t overly precious. I’m using a small one here just to demonstrate the technique, but I recommend getting one which is 20cm-30cm (at least) in diametre so you can have a decent size plant.

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Cut the bum out of the pot – this will help the soil inside of the pot be ‘one’ with the rest of the garden soil.

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Then – press, wriggle and massage the pot into the garden bed of your choice until the rim of the pot is just below the soil level.

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Plant the mint cutting directly into the soil and cover the pot with soil so you don’t even see it.

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Done!

By doing this technique, you’re still allowing the mint to express its mint-ness. The roots can still spread outwards as normal, however the sides of the pot will stop them from spreading further.  As the root’s natural behaviour is to grow close to the surface they will not dive down and under the bottom of the pot, they’ll stop there.

FYI – As part of ongoing management of this plant, you’ll need to pull out the pot/plant and prune the roots back every now and then as they’ll start getting root bound, circling in on themselves.

So there you go, you can have your mint and vegies side by side, living happily ever after.

2 Responses to “How to grow mint without it taking over your whole garden”

  1. Kat

    very basic and all together sensible idea,I might do this as I have just put it in a new veggie garden and ddon’t want it taking over.Thank you

    Reply

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