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I’ve Been Minting, Here’s How and Why

To the gardeners among you, what has been your experience with growing mint? To the food bloggers, could you share recipes involving mint?

When you talk about minting, you’re mostly speaking of minting money. Not a bad thing to do as long as you stick to honest means, but that’s not the kind of minting on my mind these days.

I’ve been growing mint, from store-bought stems. Before you laugh, hear me out.

The pandemic has brought out the baker and gardener in all of us. I’ve been a gardener of sorts over the years, and all it took for my mint trip was watching a how-to video.

In short, gently take away all the leaves from a stem other than 2-3 at the very top, then cut the stem short making sure it retains at least two nodes. Dip it in a glass of water, (stem-down-leaves-up, in case you were wondering), change the water for a day or two, keeping it on a sunlit (not direct sunlight) windowsill, and you’ll have roots growing into the water. Stick it in organic compost and it catches on quite well. Repeat for as many stems as you have space for, and very soon, you’ll have  a thriving pot of mint. Harvest from the top, making sure there are nodes below, and it will grow back again in less than a week.

This fragrant herb has been a delight. I’ve been adding some into all sorts of dishes: pastas, curries, noodles, chutneys, sauces, fried rice, and just steeping the leaves in hot water for fresh mint tea. I’ve even given away small pots as gifts.

Growing mint is of course a practical thing to do, if you’ve got the time and space for it.  There’s fresh mint on hand whenever I need them–but that’s not the only reason I like them so much.

They are resilient: cut them down and they grow back in 3-4 days, greener and thicker than ever. Stick them in a glass of water and they multiply. They spread with much energy, throwing rhizomes into the ground, covering a pot in no time and flowing out in search of new soil. If they find that new ground, they will burst into green again, a few feet away from the mother plant. I now have network of mints that have formed highways between pots.

As with all things, I draw parallels to writing, like we writers tend to do.

A mint is a humble thing, but it isn’t afraid to take up space. Not ashamed to throw out branches. It likes water and sunlight, but doesn’t wilt too easy for lack of water or under a little extra heat. It does grow rather indiscriminately like my first drafts tend to do, but it fares all the better with judicious pruning, like when I’m editing. Each time I pluck some mint and it leaves my tiny garden smelling, well, mint-fresh,  I think of how much my writing life could benefit from a mint-like spirit–able to fend for itself, resilient, seeking new ground, with rhizomes that could create a new life after a fair bit of remaining dormant. Not hesitant in declaring itself.

I grow the mint to eat, sure, but it is also my teacher and inspiration. Whenever I’m stuck, I only need step out into the balcony to watch them thrive, and touch a few tendrils to release their scent. More often than not, I return refreshed to my desk, and have something to fill the blank screen with.

To the gardeners among you, what has been your experience with growing mint? To the food bloggers, could you share recipes involving mint? To everyone else, writers, readers, what inspires you? Do you have a habit or an object you turn to when in need of inspiration?


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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

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39 Comments

  • I know your feelings for mint. I have them in my garden, my father takes care of them.
    Their magical scent stimulates innerself ❣

  • bw27677 says:

    Fantastic. Admittedly, when I saw the word mint, my thoughts were this is about money.
    The pandemic has made me reflect on my life. I too have become more creative. Thank you for hot tips on mint. 💯👌🏿.

  • soniadogra says:

    I do turn to my potted plants for inspiration but I haven’t tried mint. Lavendar, yes. I keep moving my hands over it.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’ve never grown lavender, Sonia. So brilliant you grow them–they must be a delight.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… Growing plants like mints are difficult here on the prairie.. I used to garden for years and even canned vegetables but being by myself, I don’t do too much gardening these days… I do have some indoor plants that are live, they add a bit of color and help keep the air fresh… one can learn a lot if one takes the time to “stop and smell the roses”,l I learn a great deal gazing about my backyard and watching nature alive…… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May the love that you give
    Always return to you,
    That family and friends are many
    And always remain true,
    May your mind only know peace
    No suffering or strife,
    May your spirit only know love and happiness
    On your journey through life.
    (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Gazing at the backyard used to be my favorite pastime. I can’t wait till I have a backyard again.

  • I have a few different types of mint in my garden. It is a tough plant, and as others have mentioned, has a tendency to spread, even in my dry sandy soil. I ought to find more uses for it in the kitchen, since it’s there. The mint family is huge, and includes other herbs, of course, such as lemon balm and even lavender. Another comment mentioned catnip. I tried growing it a long time ago, but cats ate it down to the ground and then dug up the roots and ate those, so I gave up. Ironically, it probably does best in the absence of cats.
    I enjoyed reading this post and the comments.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Audrey. Mint has many uses–from tea to sauces, so I keep harvesting them all the time. No cats here, so maybe i could try catnip?

  • Great post!!! I loved the illustration you used. I myself developed a love for plants and have acquired quite a few since August of last year.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That picture is of the mint I’m growing. All the best with your new idea of gardening.

  • Pam Lazos says:

    Lately I barely have time for anything and long for the days when simple horticulture pastimes kept me busy!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sorry to hear that Pam. Hope you find the time to relax with yourself for a bit!

  • 3mpodcast says:

    Funnily enough, despite mint growing like a weed, I can’t keep a mint plant alive for any great period of time. It’s very dry here, but I can keep plenty of other things alive (my basil is absolutely gorgeous right now). I’m not sure why mint dislikes me so, but it’s fun reading how well it’s sprouting for you. Maybe it’s time I give it another try. (Shannon @thewarriormuse [dot] com–Wordpress defaults to my podcast account.)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Shannon, it could be the soil? I find that it grows well on compost, but not so much on others.

  • vishnupria says:

    Well, I start fishing about new things when I feel to try and attempt to experiment with it. Once I was preparing millet upma which was aesthetically pleasing and appetising but never bothered to check with gardening. But I have to admit am certified lazy ass to even incorporate such things. That’s my lame exchange of thoughts.

  • literarylad says:

    Hi Damyanti, if you like mint tea, you could try lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) which grows in a similar way to mint (and is also vigorous!) Or lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), which needs winter protection here in the UK, but for you should grow into a shrub and be in leaf all year round.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – what a delightful metaphor on mints and writing – lots of take-aways here … loved reading it. My mind is wandering now … the root system certainly is prolific, while the varieties of mint available stretch the imagination – however the simple, basic mint is the fresh one I immediately think of … love this – thank you – cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for always reading, and being so supportive, Hilary.

  • KDKH says:

    I don’t like mint, so I can’t contribute there. Because I have cats, though, I bought one pot of catnip and planted it in the backyard and forgot about it. Catnip is in the mint family, which is why I am sharing, and some people like catnip tea. Many years later, a large corner of my lawn is nothing but catnip. I have stray catnip plants everywhere. I even see it growing in random unintended places in my neighbors’ front yards. It comes back each year, no matter sub-zero winter temps or 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) in summer. I’d say they are extra hardy!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for sharing the wonderful catnip story :). I shall be careful with catnip, if I ever think of planting it!

  • I love the flavor 🙂

  • msw blog says:

    Mint is  a wonderful herb to grow, and smells delightful after a rain or strong wind. Just keep it planted in a container or it will take over like wildfire. 

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yeah, mine are in pots, and they look like they’re planning world domination, lol

  • Cool article. I am a mint freak!

  • I used to grow mint and loved it! … Until I didn’t because it took over my flower bed. LoL … I ended up having to pull it out completely anyway in light of preparing to move, but you have reminded me what a fun plant that was to have on hand. I used mine for teas and bath bombs as well as cooking herbs. It might be worth looking into again, but potted this time. 😉 Excellent analogy about pruning writing, and one I know I need to be more mindful of. Maybe thinking of my crazy mint taking over the flower beds will help. (That and oregano! I remember desperately looking up uses for oregano because I had so much of it.)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Melody, mine are potted, and I can very much see them going out of control :). Oregano is not popular at my household though I love it–so I’m not growing it anytime soon, I don’t think. Glad the post resonated!

  • rxena77 says:

    We could all learn from the resilient mint. I grew roses when I has a house, and I enjoyed giving away beauty with the buds. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Roland, it must have been beautiful to grow roses–hope you can enjoy them again soon.

  • Lovely. I really, really like the way so much in the garden not only survives but thrives with a little care. And try to ensure that I always have pleasant scented things to brush against as I wander the garden.
    Mint, scented geraniums or lemon verbena are a wonderful addition to a bath or a foot bath too.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I shall look up scented geraniums or lemon verbena–thanks for that!

  • I like the way you talk about mint, like it’s a living sentient creature, worthy of our respect (which all living creatures are). You may have a convert here!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It IS worthy of respect as far as I’m concerned :).

      • I have come to the conclusion that all life is sentient in its own way, worthy of our care and affection. The problem is we don’t know how to communicate. I’m busily trying to figure that out!

  • The story of resilience from the mint leaves of your garden is going to stay with me for a very long time. Loved reading this piece from you!

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