Growing Mint in The Northern Territory
Mint is a delicious and easy to grow herb. It’s versatile in the kitchen and looks and smells beautiful in the garden. It’s very easy to propagate from cuttings and there are so many lovely varieties available, which makes it a great herb to go “shopping” for in a friend or neighbour’s garden.
Mint usually does best in the more temperate dry season weather. There will be leaves for harvesting all through the year, but the real burst of growth happens when the weather is mild and they have more than enough water. You’ll notice that the plants almost stop growing through the hottest parts of the year. There’s no need to worry, as soon as the weather is milder, they’ll push new leaves and shoots and start growing vigorously again.
Mint spreads very quickly and will soon take over your garden if it isn’t contained. It needs to be grown either in a container or in a bed that is separate from the rest of the garden. A great spot for it is at the garden tap, because mint loves water and the tap is often a little way away from the rest of the garden.
Mint has an invasive root system and will soon take over your garden. Make sure you have a plan to keep the spread under control.
Mint can handle a wide variety of conditions, but does well in an area that gets some shade. During the heat of summer, your plants will be happier in a shadier spot.
Mint isn’t too fussy about soil and will manage in even a poor soil, but it does best in a rich, moist soil. Work in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure to help boost the green growth and keep the moisture levels up.
Mint is best sown at the beginning of the dry season. Sowing early in the season give the plants a chance to grow well and get established before the weather becomes too hot and humid.
Mint propagates so easily from cuttings that it is seldom grown from seed. Simply sprinkle the seeds over the soil and then cover very lightly with some soil or compost. It may take up to a month for the seedlings to emerge and it’s important to keep the soil damp while the seeds are germinating.
Mint is best planted during the dry season.
Add a small amount of bonemeal to each hole before planting. The bonemeal will help your plants to establish strong root systems which will make your plants strong and vigorous. Keep the soil damp while they’re settling in. Mint doesn’t like a dry soil. A mature plant will survive a dry spell, but young mint seedlings die easily if the soil dries out.
Pick regularly from your mint plants to encourage new growth. If you can’t pick enough to keep up with them, then trim them regularly. Keeping them well trimmed will keep the leaves soft and new and the flavour far more intense.
Mint plants become dormant and woody in extreme weather, give them a hard prune and they’ll start producing again as soon as the weather is more temperate.
Mint likes water, be sure to keep the soil moist. Remember, if your plants are in a container, they’ll need more regular watering than plants in the ground.
The flavour if your mint will be more intense with less feeding, but if your plants are looking hungry, then give them a balanced organic feed like an organic fertilizer or a top dressing of compost.
Mint grows so ferociously that it covers the soil quickly and doesn’t usually need to be mulched. If your plants are looking poorly or struggling with temperature extremes, then some mulch will help keep the soil moist and the temperature more constant. Lucerne, sugar cane and pea straw are all great organic options.
You can start harvesting from your mint plants as soon as they are established and a usable size. Usually within a few weeks of planting. Simply pick or cut the leaves and stalks as you need them.