Smell this. Smell it!

By Mir
May 10, 2008

Okay, so, the box is too wide to get a very good picture of it, but I was busy little beaver today.

Mah preshus herb garden

Left to right, I’ve now got rosemary, banana peppers, flat-leaf parsley, two kinds of thyme, lemon basil, regular basil, lemon verbena, chocolate mint, and regular mint. And a whole bunch of pine straw. This is what happens when you’ve had just basil and rosemary plants, but VISIONS of an herb garden for a long time and then you happen upon a plant sale. I recommend approaching someone who works there with a $10 bill and a helpless look. “What are you looking for?” she asked. “Um, some herbs?” I said. She took good care of me.

(Yes, I know that banana peppers are not herbs. They were lonely.)

I am slowly filling the deck up with plants in containers. The betting pool is now open: How long will it take me to kill everything? (For the record, the strawberries are not only still alive, they’re blooming. Maybe my black thumb has mixed some metaphors and turned over a new leaf?)


  1. Lulu

    Yay for herb gardens! Ixnay on the mint, though. You might consider putting it into its own pot as it will bully and overcome everything else in your planter there. The chocolate mint ought to be better behaved, but…it’s still a mint and might not have good manners either.

    The only down side of container gardening, i think, is the daily watering. And 2x daily in hot weather.

    But, stiil, yay. Herbs are good scents plants!

  2. Leah

    That looks like it smells LOVELY.

    I agree about the mint, but I’m not a good enough gardener to keep track of too many containers.

    I hope my garden doesn’t suck this year. :)

  3. Sue

    Beautiful! Just make lots of mint juleps and you will keep that mint under control. You inspired me to garden the other day. Now you are inspiring me to go outside and plant my poor little tomato plants that are still in paper cups. Could you write about cleaning out dressers sometime next week? :-)

  4. mammafor2

    LOL!! I went to the Farmers Market yesterday. The kiddo’s and I bought tomatoes, rosemary, parsley, chocolate mint, lime mint, lavender, peppers, oregano… the list goes on! Mine are not planted, that will happen on Monday.

    **Watch out with you Mint, it grows fast and takes over everything!

    *** You should melt some chocolate, dip the chocolate mint in it. Let it cool and then eat it! SOOOO good! :)

  5. Jennifer

    Yeah, I’d not only separate the mint from everything else, but also from each other. I’ve heard they will cross pollinate and then smell the same. But it is definitely hard to kill. My chocolate mint has been in the same pot for about 5 years. I do nothing to it but chop off the dead in early spring when it starts showing green leaves again. I just planted sweet basil, but couldn’t find any lemon basil. Good luck with it! (And last year during the Georgia drought, I watered my basil once a day and my mint every other day and it did fine.)

  6. Sharkey

    So when are you inviting us over for mojitos?

  7. All Adither

    I’d like to grow some chocolate.

  8. bleeding espresso

    Yeah for herb gardens! You’ve already done the hardest part–actually planting it. I think you and they will be just fine :)

  9. HRH

    In Texas any type of pepper can be classified as almost anything, so I think your herb-status may not be too controversial.

    I came over on the Tootsie Farklepants super-highway.

    And as for beavers…

  10. hollygee

    Better gardeners should chime in here because I’m not absolutely sure, but I believe that your rosemary and thymes will take a great deal less water than the other herbs and the peppers — I solved that by putting the dryer herbs in clay pots and burying those posts half-way in the planter so the pots remain damp but not over watered.

  11. merlotmom

    Good luck. I agree with the others though, the mint MUST go. I planted it in a garden in my backyard years ago. I’ve since moved everything else and the mint has overtaken the entire area. I don’t even use mint, my daughter brought one little seedling home from the school garden and now it’s everywhere!

  12. Azul

    Oh! Mint! I was planning out our garden and completely forgot this. Thanks for reminding me.

  13. beth s

    Yes, move the mints. We had (actually still have, unfortunatly) some mint in our veggie garden box. It does go nuts and take over anything. Also, it will cross pollinate with the other mints so they all taste the same and it will make your other herbs taste weird too. We had mint flavored cilantro, basil, and even onions. I’m not sure exactly how it does this as we cut any buds before flowers came up but it still made everything taste and smell “minty”.

  14. mod*mom

    looks great!
    put your child(ren) in charge of watering + they’ll remind you maybe?

    congratulations on your today show appearance!!!!

    (how did you make money blogging? is it blogher ads or droolicious?)

  15. Ladanea

    How inspiring! Makes me want to go plant something right now. And I’m not going to tell you to take out the mint. (You’re welcome.)

  16. Daisy

    I agree with the others on the mint. I have to tell you, though, that every time I’ve had to pull mint plants because they’ve taken over, I’ve enjoyed the process because they smell soooo good!

  17. Mom101


  18. carmie

    I highly recommend “The Bountiful Container” for a near-encyclopedic reference on edible container gardening.

    Also, move the mint, for the sake of all that’s holy. Try some oregano or chives in its stead, they like similar watering schedules as everything else you have in there.

  19. Christina

    Good luck at keeping everything alive. I’m planting my very first garden this year, and betting that I won’t get a single edible item from it.

  20. Astrogirl426

    You can do one of two things on the mint (by the way, the above posters are correct, mint is a very invasive plant; in fact my horticulturist friend with a degree from Cornell never plants it for that very reason):

    You can dig it out now, and transplant it to its own container (did not know that bit about the mint “contaminating” the other plants and making them taste minty – how nefarious! Who knew mint could be so evil?).

    Or, you could wait and see what happens (I, being majorly lazy – I mean, busy – would go this route). What you will need to do is keep a close eye on it and pinch off new growth as it gets out of control. That should help keep it in check. Then, if it does get out of hand you can transplant it.

    And don’t forget that the best way to keep your basil and mint producing well into autumn is to pinch off any flowers that appear; that way the plants won’t flower and go to seed, and you will have foliage for mojitos well into September (actually, probably October considering your gardening zone). Good luck! Now I just need to plant my garden (although being in the Far North of upstate NY, I don’t put my veggies in until the end of May – the ground doesn’t truly warm by then). You will be my inspiration!

  21. Mariah

    Makes me want to get out into my garden and actually plant the seeds that are starting to sprout in my cupboards

  22. Warrior Knitter

    Iced tea with a little mint is good but mint iced tea with a couple of lemon verbena leaves is even better. And if you can find some orange mint, use a couple of those, too or intsead of the mint. When you need a mental lift, stroke the lemon verbena with your fingers then sniff your fingers. At the end of the season, let it dry out then save the dried leaves for use over the winter. Can you tell that lemon verbena is one of my favorite herbs!?

    A teeny pinch of lemon basil in pasta sauce, brightens it up.

  23. carolyn

    I love the spring, when hope springs enternal like the plants bursting from the ground….then reality gets a grip, I forget to water and that lovely southern summer ruins yet another good start.

  24. Beth A.

    My first thought on the list of herbs was…”OH NO! MINT!”

  25. Melissa

    My oregano came back the following year with little to no care. But a second summer of GA drought killed it dead. And you are no friend of mine if you do not plant tomatoes.

    Or “tomaters”, as the case may be.

  26. prophet

    I like mint. . . . .

  27. Burgh Baby

    Who knew so many people felt so strongly about mint?

  28. The Other Leanne

    That looks just wonderful! You are going to love being able to go out and snip-snip a little something to flavor a meal or your favorite beverage.
    All the mint comments aside, the thing that caught my eye was the rosemary. See, I planted rosemary once. It was always available for cooking/drying, or throwing a big cutting on the coals while bbq-ing, and it made the whole garden smell tasty on a warm day. But Mir, that thing got huge…really, really big, like 2+ feet in diameter. You’re going to need a bigger planter.

  29. kris

    You may have gotten this feedback already (heh), but the mint gets its own pot!
    I started an herb garden last year, and here is some stuff I learned:
    – My tough love gardening philosophy + herbs + drought = huge plants. Somehow. Even with the outdoor watering ban and my extreme laziness, the plants thrived. So don’t worry if you forget to water or something – it may not matter at all.
    – You’ll need to watch the size on all those plants and be ready to transplant – many of those will get large and they’ll start choking each other out.
    – Having fresh herbs outside your door is awesome. You’ll plant more varieties next year.

  30. joanne

    Ditto on the mint. You really should consider moving the rosemary and, perhaps, the thyme as they definitely don’t require the same amount of water as the more delicate basils. Rosemary is very hardy, and will develop woody stems, so treat it as a shrub (or perennial); it can also be shaped into a topiary as it grows from year to year. I find it hard to believe that the basil will thrive with drought and/or neglect. It requires more moisture, and will only thrive with regular watering (or you’ll see it wilt before your eyes) and constant “pinching back”. Do not let it flower, or that’s the last you’ll see of tender new and desirable (for cooking) leaves. Also mint likes “wet feet”, but do sequester it because it can really mess with your other herbs. We suffered from the same drought conditions here in No. Florida last year (thanks to Georgia siphoning water from our St. Johns River – remember the fires?), but my herbs survived through judicious hydration. Good luck!

  31. kris

    Joanne – My basil did wonderfully during the drought – maybe it was just beginner’s luck?

  32. Vanda

    We have been trying to kill some mint for the last six years. If you leave one single tiny root behind it will come back even after being sprayed with weed root killer.

    I did manage to kill some mint with neglect that was growing in a pot.

  33. Anna

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  34. Megan.

    How tragic. I have only two pieces of gardening lore and here’s my prime opportunity to air one of them and absolutely everyone else got there first. Don’t suppose you’re considering bamboo so I can show off my sad remaining bit of knowledge, are you??

  35. Judy

    Happy Mother’s Day, Mir…and I won’t tell you about the mint either (even though they are right). You will love your herb garden! Now.. it’s time for me to get busy on mine. And… most of the herbs (if you have them in movable pots) you can keep going indefinitely. We just don’t have that many really cold nights. Keep picking them back…

  36. jen

    Holy moly, you planted mint? ;) That’s an edible weed! By the end of the season you’re going to have a box of mint and a collection of mint julep recipes. ;)

  37. Flea

    These mint comments crack me up! But don’t take the lazy/busy route. It will spread underground. I can just imagine you reading all of these mint comments, panicking and ripping it all out of the container. No – I can’t quite imagine you panicking. Maybe taking it over to the neighbor who made such a fuss about the trumpet flower and planting it in her front garden …

  38. Heidi

    Ooh, minty fresh!

  39. Carrie

    Lucky you! Fresh herbs . . . I can only imagine if I tried that on my deck – the dog would think I’d gotten him a new treat and eat them, pine and all!

    Happy Mom’s Day!

  40. mamaspeak

    If you want to keep the mint in the herb box, you can plant it in a container & then plant the container into the dirt. It’ll contain the roots so it won’t spread and take over.

    We planted our garden in March & already have to move some things as they’re getting too big for each other; butter lettuce loves us! Bell peppers, not so much. Corn & beans are very happy, as well as tomatos. Herbs runnth over already and we’re happily eating our strawberries too–super sweet! I highly recomend a drip system & if not, get the kids cheap watering cans from the dollar store.

  41. Kate

    Mint is such a weird word. Try saying it 5 times slowly. See what I mean?

  42. The Other Dawn

    Why do I have an overwhelming urge to plant an entire planter full of mint? Must be my contrary nature.

  43. patty

    it’s easy to deal with the mint. when it goes where you don’t want it, pull it up. i’ve done this in my herb garden for the past few years and it works just fine. oh – my chocolate mint still smells like chocolate and the regular mint is, well, just minty smelling and tasting. the two have not mixed at all and they have been planted next to each other for years.

    good luck.

  44. Shalee

    I’m just glad that you didn’t want us to smell your finger…

  45. Beth

    I have good empirical evidence that shows the #1 best way to kill a rampaging mint plant is to let your cat wallow in the mint patch for multiple years.

    And actually, if you’ve got stray cats in your neighborhood, you might want to consider moving the mint to a separate container just so the cats don’t kill everything else trying to get high on the mint.

    If you’re confused: catnip is a member of the mint family :-)

  46. catnip

    All this mint talk! I can’t seem to keep my mint alive – I must be a terrible gardener :)

  47. k24601

    If you have mice/rat problems though I suggest you keep the mint. I found out that they hate the smell of mint. If you’d prefer an alternative to traps and stuff, you’re willing to test it out , and don’t mind the idea of urine smell (fake or otherwise) in and outside your home..there’s also this stuff called shakeaway that imitates bobcat and fox urine to help keep the mice and rats out. I haven’t tried getting mint plants yet but I plan on getting some for my next home and from now on I’m going to use mint more often. Since mint sounds like it ’causes problems I might ask somebody to help me cut the mint daily and I’ll be keeping the plants in small pots anyway so hopefully it won’t get to be a problem.(well I’m working on other things as well that should help keep me from having a mouse problem ever again…hah) I want to have other plants as well if there’s enough room in my yards for herbs and flowers. I’m hoping mint plants will be enough to keep them out as I have mixed feelings about the idea of trying shakeaway.

  48. Veronica

    Well since everyone has chimed in with how mint likes to take over, I am seriously thinking of planting mint along my entire front fence line. We face the road and I think mint would be lovely along there. Plus, it could take over as much as it likes as we only have grass there at the moment.

    Thanks for the idea!

  49. the farmers wife

    Mint is otherwise known as a garden thug. It will eat the Rosemary for breakfast. It is kind of fun to plant mint on one side of the garden and Artemesia on the other side and watch them duke it out.

    Never, ever plant black bamboo. It will take your whole house down. I’m serious. It’s known to jump superhighways and cross state lines!

    = Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  50. Kathy

    I planted mint on an ugly hillside with a railroad tie retaining wall for just this reason. It took over, falls down over the front of the wall even, and looks sooo much better than just a view of railroad ties!

  51. K @ The Homestead

    I have a good Mojito recipe… do you need it? I mean… if you are really worried about the mint issue…

  52. sillyme

    Mint smells lovely when you run it over with the lawn mower. Minty. So I didn’t mind when it somehow landed in my grass. It made mowing fun. (or maybe chasing rabbits with the riding mower was the fun part…well, whatever)

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