Questions on: Mint
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
A. You have mint growing. And whether or not you want to save it is up to you. The plant can become invasive and take over a bed in a couple of years.
It is an excellent source for making teas, flavoring drinks, etc, and the local honeybees simply love it! So it is not all bad!
Q. I always like and enjoy your column, but shame on you for telling the reader from Maddock to "consider both plants a weed" (mint and buckthorn).
An 8-foot-high buckthorn is a very nice thing to see, and the fragrance from the greenish flowers in early June is heavenly. Some of the most individual specimens in Chantangua Park and Pioneer Park on the courthouse lawn here in Valley City are well grown buckthorns with gracefully arching branches.
Mint is a herb which makes delicious tea, sauces, herbal sugars, etc. I have used native mint for many purposes with much success. Mint plants cost plenty (if not a "mint") when you buy them from a nursery. Why should they be regarded as a "weed" simply because the owner didn't have to pay for them?
I would tell the reader from Maddock to enjoy his mint and buckthorn, but to keep the mint under control. (Valley City, N.D.)
A. Ouch! I accept my well-deserved shame with humility! You are right. I am too quick to condemn these two plants to a "weed" status.
Just to let you know that I am really a decent, unbiased guy, we are growing three kinds of mint in our own gardenpepper, spear, and Egyptianand enjoy them immensely. We keep them in bounds with railroad ties.
As for the buckthornyes, it does have all the qualities you describe, but I have seen where the heavy consumption of the fruit by birds leads to an unwanted planting scheme. By a very rough definition, a "weed" is an unwanted plant in that particular location.
Bentgrass, used on putting greens and tees on golf courses, becomes unwanted "weeds" when the golfer unwittingly carries seed back home and it establishes in his Kentucky bluegrass lawn.
So, by virtue of location, not necessarily the plant species, a plant is often called a weed.
Thank you for writing! You obviously know your horticulture. Any chance you are a Master Gardener, or are planning to take the course in Jamestown this winter?
I promise to not be as quick to denounce a plant as a weed in the future!
Q: My mother-in-law unknowingly planted mint in an uncontrolled way two years ago. Of course it has taken over a lot of her garden. I am the chosen relative that has to take care of her garden due to her health concerns. What can I do to eliminate this plant short of digging for the next century? Are there any chemicals, treatments, etc? It seems it might be easier to dig up the good plants and totally kill the rest of the garden. (E-mail reference)
A: That might be the best solution- - dig out the plants that you want to save and nuke everything else with glyphosate (Roundup). Mint is a tough one to control once it gets established. Don't let your mother-in-law talk you into replanting with any catnip either- - it is just as bad!
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