Growing Mint (Peppermint)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint or Mint (Mentha piperita) is a herbaceous aromatic shrub, which belongs to the family of Lamiaceae. The flowers are white and mint scented. It is used in cooking, as a decoction or essential oil and for the preparation of medicaments. Mint is a plant relatively competitive and with high growth of the root system.
Professional Cultivation of Mint
The mint is grown more easily with grafts, contrary to growing from seeds. However, as it happens with many herbs, if you plan to cultivate mint in a large scale, then growing from seed is the only financially wise choice, as nobody can afford to select, pay and place in the field hundreds of thousands of grafts.
Nevertheless, we will present both ways of growing mint.
We generally get grafts from older plantations (1 hectare of established plantation yields enough grafts for 5-7 hectares). We need 3300 – 4400 lbs. (1500-2000 kg) of grafts for 1 hectare (10.000 m2) of new mint cultivation.
To get a good graft, we cut a sprig of the plant 0,4 inches (1 cm) above a node, so that we will allow new branches to grow. We do not need to have many leaves in the branch we cut. We place all the grafts in a glass of water and wait until small white roots appear. It will take them nearly two weeks to develop roots at an appropriate length.
1 oz. of mint seeds contains on average 340.000 seeds (1 grammar of mint seeds contains on average 12.000 seeds). We need about 0,017 oz. (0,5 grammar) of mint seeds for 1000 plants.
We should keep in mind that the seeds of oregano, mint and rosemary have low germination (about 50%). That’s why these species create such a high quantity of seeds. Consequently, we may need 20.000 seeds (0,07 oz. or 2 gr) for only 2.000 to 3.000 good plants.
For every hectare (10.000 m2), we need to have about 100.000 – 120.000 plants. Thus, we have to sow a seedbed of 200 m2 (0.02 hectare) or many smaller ones, in which we use about 4,2 oz. (120 gr) of seeds.
Mint plants generally thrive in deep, well drained and irrigated soils in areas with partial shade. Peppermint prefers soil with pH from 6 to 7,5.
Either we have grafts or we have started our plants from seeds, we have to successfully transplant our mint plants. We plant at a depth of 2 inches (5 cm) at a distance of 6 inches (15 cm) between plants. We irrigate frequently, so that the soil be kept moist, especially during the first year. In order to develop more leaves on the side of the plant and get better harvest, it is better to hold the top of the plant permanently cut. We divide the plant every 2 or 3 years. The plant is susceptible to rust disease, which creates an orange-brown spots on the underside of the leaves, and can be treated with a fungicide spray. Harvest takes place from late spring until early autumn. We gather fresh green leaves; we never gather more than 1/3 of the leaves, so as to allow the plant to grow. The roots of the plant during the winter can survive, but we can protect them through covering with a thick layer of mulch.
If we plan to extract essential oil from our cultivation, we should keep in mind that the output can reach 130-150 lbs. (60-70 kg) of essential oil per hectare of mint cultivation.
Do you have experience in cultivating mint? Please share your experience, methods and practices in the comments below.
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