After having a bountiful growing season with your mint garden, it is time to harvest them. While it may seem easy as it sounds, there are right ways and procedures to ensure you do not endanger the entire plants, thus killing them.
Even if you are armed with the right and professional technique of harvesting mints, all efforts will prove abortive if you harvest them prematurely.
If you want to know how to harvest mint without killing the plant, that is exactly what we'll be discussing here today.
The first question you should ask is how can I know the right time to harvest mints? We will cover this in the next section.
Let's get started!
When To Harvest Mint Plants
Spring is the best time to start collecting your mature mint. You should do this as soon as the mint has leafed out.
You will want to ensure that after this time, you should harvest every season. The importance of this is that it will help the plant develop new foliage every season. In summary, harvesting mint leaves frequently will help keep the plant in check.
You can collect mint leaves throughout the growing season. The more you pick the leaves, the more your mint will grow.
Note that it is better to harvest the mint leaves when it is still young and tender as they possess more flavor than old leaves.
Why You Need To Take Caution During Mint Harvest
You have spent time and money cultivating your mint from seeding to maturity. If you have experience with this plant, you will agree that it takes up to 90 days before the first set of leaves are matured enough to be harvested.
All these take time and patience and you do not want to flush all these away by harvesting it wrongly.
If you harvest your mint wrongly, you stand the chance of killing the plant and you only get to harvest just once rather than multiple times.
Typically, after the first set of leaves has been harvested, it will regrow to harvest height again in a month and a half or so. If proper harvest is done, your mint can last from 5 – 10 years. So you can constantly harvest every season without having to go through the process of growing from seeding.
How To Harvest Mint Without Killing The Plant
If you are harvesting just a little quantity for quick use, you can just go ahead to cut from anywhere, so long as the leaves look fresh and healthy.
For the general harvest, the general rule of thumb is to start harvesting from the top of the plant and down to the bottom.
Why is this so? Removing leaves from the top first does not only provide the best flavor, but it also helps prevent the plant from blooming, thus channeling the energy to developing more foliage and leaves which of course is the initial intention for cultivation.
You can go ahead to collect other mature and healthy leaves from the main stem.
The old and unhealthy leaves can be left to rot and fall off.
How Much Mint Should You Pick?
We have stated previously that you can harvest the leaves all through the growing season. However, during the growing season, you should not take more than ½ to ⅔ of the new growth each time you harvest.
As the day goes, you can then harvest and store as much mint as you can for the winter months to come.
By this time, it will be okay to cut your mint back to within 1 - 2 inches. As a matter of fact, this is the best practice for harvesting mint leaves.
How To Prepare Mint Plant For Winter After Harvest
Mints are perennial plants. They will become dormant during the winter and start to grow again once the grown starts to get warm. Preparing the plant for winter will help make it grow better the next season.
Trimming the mint plant to the ground before winter is a recommended practice to ensure that the plant remains healthy all through the winter period.
It helps to prevent insects and diseases such as anthracnose.
When doing this pruning, cut them to the ground about an inch above the ground level. If you have a large garden of mint plants, using a lawnmower will be a wise decision.
Mint will certainly grow back after the winter in the next season and even do better than the previous.
How To Preserve Your Harvest Mint Leaves
Now that you have gotten sufficient leaves to enjoy all through the winter, you’d want to properly store and preserve your leaves so it can remain effective anytime you want to use them.
There are different methods to this, but we will only discuss the best that can ensure the preservation of up to a year to take you through until the next harvest season.
So how can you do this?
Clean the leaves and take out every rotting leaves. Wash the leaves under running tap water to remove dirt.
Spread the leaves on a kitchen towel to allow the water to drain off and dry completely.
Place a tissue paper in a plastic container and spread the leaves inside as much as it can contain. Avoid pressing them. Put the container inside a refrigerator. This method can preserve the mint leaves for up to 2 months.
Another way to do this is to grind the mint leaves into a paste. Put them inside a silicone ice tray and allow to freeze until they become ice.
This second process can make your mint last up to a year while you continue to enjoy the freshness of your mint leaves.
Now that you have learned how to harvest mint without killing the plant, you can now continue to enjoy fresh mint flavor all season without the hard labour or cultivation.
Note that mint leaves are just fine to harvest anytime whether before or after flowering, but the flavor may not be quite as strong as it was before it flowered. This is why we have always preferred harvesting before flowering.