Peppermint In The Garden
It was such a beautiful Fall day today. I’m such an outdoors kinda person, no matter how much I have to do inside, when the weather is beautiful I just can’t resist the urge to get out into the glorious sunshine and get my hands dirty.
I hurried to get today’s scheduled project done so that I could get into the garden and do something more enjoyable than standing in the kitchen. Thankfully, my nine-year-old, Jada, helped me freeze the several gallons of pears which were my must-do for the day. She cut and pitted them, I peeled and packaged. We make a great team.
Once that was finished, I was free to get out into the fresh air and find something to do. There’s always a multitude of things needing attending to, it’s just a matter of picking which one I feel like doing at that particular moment.
After emptying the clothesline of cloth diapers and wipes, I turned my attention toward the chicken coop. It needed cleaning, and a little rearranging. We were given a nice, metal set of laying boxes, and I needed to get them in there in a place where the chickens wouldn’t roost over them and get them all poopy on top.
Using a shovel, I diligently scooped out all of the old straw and manure, and spread it around my barren garden. I haven’t planted much in the garden this Fall, focusing my efforts toward putting in more grape vines, berry bushes, and other perennials instead.
Once the coop was clean, and the nesting boxes in place, I had the brilliant idea to pull up a couple of buckets full of peppermint clumps and stuff the boxes and roosting ledge with the deliciously fragrant leaves. I figured the chickens might enjoy laying in it, and it wouldn’t hurt the smell of the flock and the coop. Sure enough, after that the coop smelled surprisingly fresh!
Speaking of which, you may be wondering why I would waste such a useful thing as fresh peppermint on chicken bedding. Which brings me to the lesson I’d like to share today.
Do not. Under any circumstances. Plant any member of the mint family in your garden, unless it is in a container.
Over the summer I had the genius idea to border my broccoli beds with peppermint plants. I read that peppermint is a great companion plant for broccoli, and helps to repel those horrid white moths that bring on the fat, green broccoli worms I battled last season.
So, I happily edged my beds with transplanted mint. It grew beautifully, and although I’m not sure it helped to repel the moths, it lended a wonderful scent to the garden when accidentally crushed under foot.
The plan was for them to grow obediently right where I’d placed them. But when the broccoli was finished producing and I pulled the plants out of the bed, it made room for the peppermint to stretch its legs and quickly creep into places it didn’t belong!
I now have the most beautiful peppermint plants invading my raised beds. Great. Those suckers grew right up under the side of the bed and made their way to the surface where they proudly flaunt their accomplishment.
I’ve transplanted a lot of it to another, better suited place in my yard. But you know how mint is, it just keeps coming back! So, I have no qualms about yanking these bad boys outta my garden and putting them to good use in my nesting boxes. After all, minty fresh eggs would be cool, right?!
Anyways, in the meantime Xia (pronounced Zy-uh, for my new fans) was enjoying exploring the garden while I worked. I glanced over at her every now and then, and watched as she picked some of the remaining Zinnias to form a mini bouquet, chatted with a busy bumblebee, and then sat down to enjoy digging in the dirt with a stick for a while.
I joined her shortly, and showed her how to harvest the seeds from the dried flowerheads. We got a nice bowlful of Zinnia seeds to replant next Spring.
After that, we meandered over to the herb bed, and as I examined my plants there, I picked and crushed leaves from each of them and let Xia inhale the different fragrances the bed had to offer. It was fun watching her go around and around the bed, picking and sniffing to her heart’s delight. I quizzed her on the herbs she was smelling as she went, hoping to encourage her to memorize their scents.
Surprisingly to me, the herbs there are still going strong. Sure, it isn’t gorgeous to look at. It’s overgrown and a bit shabby. But if you look closely, you will find new sprigs of sage, chives, summer savory, fennel, oregano, dill, and cilantro ready to be harvested and enjoyed. We also found some flowering basil, and woody thyme nearby, and sampled them as well.
There was so much more I wanted to do outside, but dinnertime was calling and all too quickly it was time to go inside and feed the family. So, I hung my dirty work gloves up and took my place back in the kitchen.
There’s always tomorrow, and there’s always more work to be done.