Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Mint is Dead, Long Live the Mint

Paisley-Face in mint, available in my Etsy Shop.

It is the destiny of mint to be crushed.
--Waverley Lewis Root

Apparently, Waverly has only crushed it, for he seems to have left out the part where the mint is more than happy to be crushed, as it knows it will simply grow back from where you have ripped it from the ground and strangle out the sturdiest of more delicate and desirable herbs. (In case you were wondering, as was I, who on earth Waverley Lewis Root was, I Wikipedia'ed him, and he was an American journalist for the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post who wrote primarily about food. I'm sure if I could ever get any of my family or friends from Northern Virginia to read my blog, one of them would have probably known him. Alas, then I'd have to take the heat about writing a blog as the only non-professional-writer member of my family. Phhht, I say to that.)   

Who knew that a gift from my daughter's elementary school teacher a dozen years ago would still be reaching out to bitch-slap my garden all these years later, despite my attempts to kill it. 

Dear, sweet, Ms. Voge, the most beloved teacher a young girl (and her parents) could have, at the end of the school year, invited her entire class and their parents over to her house for a party. As a twenty-something nouveau-hippie, she grew her own veggies and herbs and raised bunnies in her vast back yard, and collected eclectic vintage and exotic furnishings for her little house.  As a gift to each of her students, and unwittingly making herself Patient Zero in this city-wide, minty contagion, she gave a single, tiny mint plant to take home.  Since I grew up a couple thousand miles Northeast of here, knowing how well it grows in Virginia, I took it home, expecting it to grow for a little while, at least as long as my daughter's attention-span at the time, then perish in the gruesome desert of the Southwest. Little did I know that that mint plant would spread across the area I had planted it in and send out little feeder roots to my entire back yard.
Both my son and I have gone through and ripped out any signs of mint-life to be found from under the cottonwood tree, where we originally planted it (don't get me started on what a noxious weed of a tree the cottonwood is).  I dug out the tiny roots that had infiltrated the dirt plot around the tree in order to grow something--really anything--I wanted, instead.
That was a couple of weeks ago.
Since I needed to treat the tree for disease this year, I decided to plant flowers there, since the treatment chemicals are not the sort of thing you'd want in your edibles. I gave it some yummy soil and some extra chunks from the peat pots my edible plants were in, and sowed a few marigold seeds.  
Oh, come on.
 I made sure that the flowers and garden plots got water, while the xeriscaped bricks around them got none.

Okay, seriously. F*ck you already.
 A few years ago, I did find something that gave the mint a run for its money, but it's hard to say whether it was a good trade-off or not.  As it turns out, another weed-disguised-as-aromatic-herb that seems to grow in every climate on earth (I'm not kidding--I saw it growing in a window box in a science lab in Dae-Jung, South Korea, which is climatically comparable to South Florida) is rosemary.  Now, I like rosemary in some dishes just fine, so I found it a lot more useful than the mint. However, a few months go by, and that rosemary had spread across everywhere!  It even seemed to duke it out with the mint and win! The fact that it also overgrew my basil and oregano, two herbs I like a lot more, was what really put the fear of Mother Earth in me. Not to mention the fact that rosemary grows on these sturdy, woody, pine-like stalks, that maintain their integrity even after death, during winter. Not good.

I seem to have been able to extract all the rosemary from years past. This year I bought ONE plant of rosemary, and I planted it next to my broccoli, as was suggested by my research about Companion Gardening, and it seems to get along okay so far.
Okay, Rosemary old girl, I'M WATCHING YOU.

So we shall see what the future holds for the battle of the noxious aromatic weeds delightful, fragrant herbs plotting against my garden. In the meanwhile, I think I might make up some prettier garden markers.
To end my tale of treachery, I'll leave you with this picture of my larger garden plot, complete with three different types of tomatoes, basil, and oregano.

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