The Sweet Life Gardener: Peppermint

By Alisa Murray

Peppermint is one of the oldest herbs we have. It has been found in the pyramids in Egypt and apparently deemed useful not only for the living, but for the dead as well. Mint was also used as a trading commodity. The word “mint” traces back to the actual minting of money. The herb Biblically is mentioned in Luke as being used to pay tithe and taxes. In Greek mythology, it was Persephone, Hade’s wife, that turned Minte into the plant out of retaliation for sleeping with her husband. Multiple philosophers have boasted the use of peppermint through the years giving it kudos from ailing nausea to promoting healing to even boosting libido.

Peppermint has a long history of use for treating many ailments, in particular stomach issues and pain. Because of it’s refreshing qualities, it has not surprisingly been commercialized for use in toothpastes, teas and candies. This herb also, as you might guess, has a multitude of culinary uses. I love using peppermint in sauces that have a Mediterranean flair, as well as adding the crushed leaves to make ice cubes with lemonade for my summer poolside drinks. Of course, there’s also that mojito, lest we not forget to mention, a very nice use of the herb for sure.

When planting peppermint, or any mint for that matter, it is imperative that you do not plant it in the ground. This stuff likes to spread out and take over, and it is one mistake that I have made in the Sweet Life Garden as I now have hedges of it that must be cut back regularly. I have ripped it up by the roots, and it still comes back strong, so be warned and keep in a pot!

In the garden to ward off pests, I regularly add peppermint oil to neem oil as a spray for aphids. They do not appreciate the powerful smell of either the neem and the peppermint, and for those who have an organic garden, we all know neem doesn’t smell nice, so adding the peppermint helps on the human side of taking care of the garden.

Peppermint is a great herb to have in the garden and has many uses that I think you’ll find valuable on hand for tummy troubles and for refreshing teas. It is definitely one of my most asked for herbs for cuttings from my friends, as everyone it seems wants to grab an handful to take home and enjoy!

Keep on Growing!