Not in the beds, mind you. I have raised beds, and I planted the mint in the pathways, thinking it would smell nice underfoot (it does) and that it would spread itself around as mint does but stay nicely where it was meant to outside of the beds. It doesn’t. Big surprise. It’s insinuated itself into every bed it’s near, sending runners under the board sides and into the soft rich soil where vegetables will struggle to compete with it.
So I have to rip it all out. (And the lemon balm, too, but let’s not mention that.)
I may replant some of it in an area next to my house that’s all weedy grass now – and I will likely be sorry – but most of it has to go, and since I hate wasting food, I’m trying to find ways to use it. We’ll have dried mint to brew tea for an army. I can only make so much tabbouli (and I don’t have a lot of parsley right now), and other recipes call for a few tablespoons of chopped mint at a time. So I’ve been looking for other ways to use it.
Via Montgomery Victory Gardens I got a recipe from CookEatShare for basil-mint pesto – it’s tasty, but it uses much more basil than mint. Then I found a mint pesto recipe in Mark Bittman’s great cookbook How to Cook Everything:
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 canola or other neutral oil
Combine everything in a food processor or blender and let it do its thing. I found that this quantity of oil was way too much (same thing with the other recipe) and reduced it by about half, but try it and see what you think. Use quickly or freeze. I’ve used it on leftover potatoes and veggies, and it would be good on meat too, or on pasta.
By the way, this is how you should grow mint, the way we do it in the demo garden:
And still: watch it. There are some kinds of mint that are less vigorous than the usual peppermint – I have repeatedly killed chocolate mint, apple mint, orange mint, etc. – but you never know. Plant (everyone should have a mint plant), but plant with caution.
While I’m at it, let me warn you against another mistake I made: planting elderberries right outside the garden fence. They sucker like mad, and I am still rooting the suckers up a year and a half after cutting down the original plants and several yards away from where they grew.
Elderberries are lovely shrubs, and you can make jam from the berries (with some tedious labor) or wine from either flowers or berries, or just attract beneficial insects and distract the birds from your blackberries. But do yourself a favor and plant them where you can mow all the way around.