|My mint forest.|
I planted mint in the garden. Directly in the soil. Three times.
Here's the context, a.k.a. my excuse. I'd been in Japan less than three months when the farmers told me I could have a little corner of their fields to call my own, to grow whatever I wanted. I was ecstatic beyond belief. Filled with such euphoria I went to the nursery, which is akin to going to the grocery store when you're hungry. You crave everything and anything, end up buying more than you need and a handful of things that aren't good for you. I filled two bike baskets and another bag hung from my handlebars. Mint and lemon balm sat innocent-leaved among tomatoes, nasturtiums, cosmos, marigolds, and eggplants.
A year of so later a friend mentioned her husband found bergamont at another nearby nursery. Bergamont?!? My head filled with memories of summer meals at Sybil and Maan's where Maan introduced our neighborhood to a magnificent potato salad made with the leaves of this Michigan native. Food and memory are powerful forces in my garden,, and I dashed off to see what I could find. Despite knowing full well that bergamont is a member of the mint family and that it is not native to Japan, I planted it in the garden. How bad could it be?
Well, let me tell you. The mint family is aggressive. I might almost call it the yakuza (Japanese mobsters) of horticulture. I do admire the determination it has to spread and grow, and I am grateful for the mini-forest it creates to shade a local stray cat, shelter salamanders and praying mantis', and the erosion control it offers. And let's not forget mojito's, salads, and tea, either, but there ends the silver-lining of this menace.
Mint, as is its wont, is taking over. When I refer to the 'mint forrest' above, I'm not kidding. Both ends of my west wall bed are full of it, and one of my compost bins has been half eaten by it. It's also creeping into my lasagna bed. The stolons it sends out have snuck under (and sometimes through, damn them) my tatami mat mulch to appear next to my potato sprouts. The lavender, a favorite with butterflies and those venturing by on the walking street, is being molested by it. The bergamont nearly destroyed one of my rhubarb plants, which frankly is going too far.
What I should have done if I really wanted mint in the garden would have been to turn to my trusted Rodale Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening for guidance. There they advise to "...plant mints in bottomless containers that are at least 15 inches deep and sunk in the ground with one or two inches protruding above the soil surface, or plant above ground in tubs and barrels." Instead, I'm carefully working out the stolons and packing them into our burnable trash, giving lots of away for tea, or for potting up (with stern words of caution!).
Got a garden confession to make? There's no shame in sharing these things. Heaven knows, I've got no right to judge after this doozey. Let's hear it.