Corsican mint (Mentha piperita) is a small shrub with white flowers in spring. It grows up to 3 feet tall and wide. Its leaves are oval shaped, alternate, and hairy at the tips. The leaves have four leaflets each arranged in two rows of three leaflets each. They are dark green above and light green beneath. The stems are slender and pale yellowish brown. It prefers moist soil but will grow in dry areas too. It is native to the Mediterranean region, especially Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey.
The name “corsican” comes from the Latin word for mint or peppermint; it’s also used because of its resemblance to a cigarillo leaf.
How To Start Using Corsican Mint?
You can start using corsican mint when the plants are young. You can also start growing corsican mint if you live in a warm climate where they grow well. When planting corsican mint, make sure to place them in the ground so that their roots don’t get buried under other vegetation. If you do not do this, then the plants may die from lack of moisture and will need to be replanted. The roots do not like to be buried so make sure that you plant them in an area where this does not happen.
You may also start your plants from seeds which are readily available at nurseries or online.
When To Start Using Corsican Mint?
You can start growing corsican mint plants at the beginning of the growing season. The best time is in the spring or early summer when the plants are small. You can also start the plants in the fall but make sure that you give them some protection from the cold.
What To Use Corsican Mint For?
These plants are great for cooking and taste like a combination of spearmint and peppermint. They have a slightly sweet yet pungent flavor that blends well with many foods. Most people either like it or do not like it, but there is not much middle ground.
One way to use corsican mint is in a mojito. In a tall glass, place some cubed ice.
Add the juice of one lime. Then add three sprigs of fresh corsican mint and 1oz of white rum. Stir well and serve with a straw or a thin straw like swizzle stick.
How To Care For Your Corsican Mint?
Corsican mint needs ample water but will not tolerate soggy soil. During the growing season, the plants need to be watered on a regular basis, especially the first four weeks after planting when they are getting established. After that, you can water them every 2-3 days unless there is a period of no rain for a longer period. In which case, you should water them daily.
In the fall, corsican mint should be watered less but not allowed to completely dry out. If the leaves turn yellow and begin to wilt, this means that the plant needs more water.
Corsican mint can grow well in clay or loamy soil but does not do well in sand. The plants prefer to be in rich soil and don’t like to have their roots disturbed.
They will not tolerate soggy soil.
Corsican mint doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. If you want, you can add compost to the soil in the spring.
If you decide to use chemical fertilizer, then apply it at half strength.
The plants start to bloom in the summer and give off a light fragrance. This can cause other plants nearby to bloom too if they are of that variety.
Once the flowers fade, the leaves will begin to turn yellow and fall off the plant. This signals that the growing season is over and by that time, you will need to start preparing the plants for winter.
Corsican mint can survive the winter in zones 7 and up. In colder zones, it will need to be dug up and stored indoors so that it can continue to survive the cold weather.
How To Harvest Your Corsican Mint?
Corsican mint leaves can be harvested anytime after they are 6 inches tall. Cut off the top third of the plant at the base. This will encourage it to bush out and create more leaves.
If you want to harvest all of the leaves at once, cut off the entire plant about an inch above the soil but only do this every three years or so. This will keep the plants from becoming weakened or stunted.
After harvesting, place the leaves in a container with a damp paper towel placed on the bottom to keep them fresh. Store in the fridge.
Don’t Throw The Plant Out!
After you’ve removed the leaves from the main stem, don’t throw the remainder of the plant away. You can replant it to use next year.
Dig a small hole in some potting soil and place the roots inside. Cover with more soil and water well. Place the plant in a sunny window and keep it watered during the summer months. By the following spring, it should have grown enough so that you can cut the stems with roots and leaves attached.
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Sources & references used in this article:
MINTS AND MICROSCOPES by E ANDERSON – Herbs for Use and for Delight: An Anthology from …, 1974 – books.google.com
Radioprotective potential of mint: a brief review by MS Baliga, S Rao – Journal of cancer research and therapeutics, 2010 – cancerjournal.net
Mint and its constituents by OS Daramol – Trans. By-Mycol, Soci, 2011