Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing Peppermint in North Texas

Peppermint for Every Herb Garden

Of all of the plants in our garden, peppermint is one of the easiest to grow.  It seems happy with the simple life we have provided for it.  I realize that just because something grows well, it doesn't necessarily  mean that you want it in your garden, but mint is one of those things most people do want.  It attracts beneficial insects like bees with it's lovely flowers and deters some other less wanted ones - namely ants.   I know people who have trouble growing mint in our neck of the woods, but I find that with a little shade, mint will thrive.  The mint at our place gets morning shade and afternoon sun.  It will flourish in the spring and autumn when the temperatures are mild and hang in there during the summer and winter months.  With just a little planning, you can have fresh mint all year long!

In the prairie regions of Texas, peppermint appreciates dappled sun or partial shade.

Propagate Your Own Peppermint

Did you know that mint is one of the easiest plants to propagate?  Just take cuttings and stick them in water.  Be patient and change the water out every few days and in a week or two, your cuttings will have roots.  In the meantime, the mint cutting make a lovely addition to the kitchen and puts a fresh, spring smell in the air.  I have even direct sewed mint cuttings into a water retaining medium such as vermiculite and had it do just fine.  Nurse it along for a little while, making sure to keep the growing medium moist, and in a few months you will have more mint to plant outside, or keep inside in a pot for an attractive addition to the kitchen herb garden.

How to Use Peppermint:  Food and Medicine

Many people love to put fresh mint in their tea or just chew on it for the robust flavor.  You can add it to chocolate cookies or brownies for a refreshing taste surprise.  Mint is great in salads and as an herb used in cooking.  Here is a link to a few recipe ideas to get you started:

Did you know that mint also has some nice medicinal properties?  It can give your body a boost when you're fighting a cold and help settle an irritated stomach.  Follow the links below to learn how to use mint in ways other than just in your tea.,,20307175,00.html

Happy gardening!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Every Garden Needs Bees

Gardens need bees and bees love flowers.  Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?  In the past, this may have been true, but for the past ten years, bee populations in the United States and Europe have declined by roughly 30%.  Although not everyone agrees on the reason this is happening, everyone does agree that this is very alarming and could lead to big trouble for farmers who depend on these small insects to pollinate their crops. 

Some people believe pesticides are the problem and some countries are placing bans on the most likely culprits.  Neonicitinoids are one of the main classes of pesticide believed to be negatively affecting bee populations and these are, unfortunately, one of the most widely used.

This is just one more reason to consider organic gardening.  Without our bee friends, we're going to be in trouble!  What else can we do to encourage healthy bee colonies?  Plant flowers that bees love!  Here is a link to some of their favorites:

Beside filling your yard and garden with beautiful, fragrant, bee attracting flowers, also be aware of the type of habitats that they look for.  If you have something like this on your property, consider leaving it there.  If you notice that a colony of bees has taken up residence on your property and you don't want it there, instead of killing it off, call a local beekeeper to see if they will move it for you.  Here is some information on habitats and nests:

Together, we can keep these great pollinators, in our area and around the country, thriving!