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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