18 Mar 2012

Impulse buying

Lime Mint in front with Broadleaf Thyme at the back
As part of my thoughtful gardening plan for this year, I went out shopping yesterday for some J Arthur Bower's seed compost.  It's the one that came out top for seeds and cuttings in recent Which? Gardening trials and, as I have to buy seed compost anyway, I want to get my plants off to a good start this year rather than sowing seed into any old multi-purpose compost and hoping for the best.

After checking various local sources, I found I could buy it in The Boma Garden Centre in Kentish Town, a small independently run company with friendly staff and interested customer service. I truly meant to just pop in for a bag of compost and come straight home...  but that wouldn't really be me though, would it?

Of course, having not been there for many years, I had to have a good look round, get a mental list of their stock tucked away in my head. Ooh yes, liquid seaweed:  I need some of that;  Bag of vermiculite? Oh yes please, excellent for topping small seeds, quickly past the seeds, whoops, no, back up, French Breakfast Radish? yep, add that to the basket.  Better have a check out back, it's not raining too heavily ... oh lawks, that's done it, I've found the herbs! Mmmm, hmm, hmm.... oh lovely, borage, better have some that just in case my self-collected seeds don't germinate; squeeze, pinch, sniff ... more thyme certainly but which variety?  Broadleaf looks good and excellent culinary usage, Lemon Balm? maybe later and ... ooh, what's this then?  Lime Mint?  I like a bit of the unusual and I hadn't come across this before.  Isn't it beautiful?  I had to have two.  One for the veg patch and one for my balcony.  There were many other lovely herbs that I regretfully left behind (I have masses of herb seeds in my seed box) but I may have to pop back for some violas from their extensive collection as I've just found a nice sounding recipe in Jekka's Herb Cookbook for Violet Apple Cake. (I have a few violets in the veg patch, planted there last summer but they're not quite big enough to start helping myself to the flowers yet.)

So, back to the new acquisition.  Lime Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata) will be a vigorous grower, up to 2ft/40cm, with purple flowers over red and green foliage. (Sounds heavenly.) Its leaves can be chopped up for cold drinks, fruit pies and fruit or green salads, yogurt and ice-cream; it has a strong flavour so a little goes a long way and it's best to use the young shoots.  It likes semi-shade in moist, rich soil and, like other members of the family, spread can be controlled by planting into a sunken terracotta pot. (Although, would I really want to restrict its growth?)

Now I just have to figure out where to put it and, preferably, in a slug free zone. (I'm finding lots of baby slugs and white catepillar-like larvae buried in the soil, this does not bode well for the veg patch this summer.)

20 comments:

  1. Mmmm I like the sound of that lime mint. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who impulse buys in the garden centre. We only popped in on Saturday to have a look at climbers and came out with a pond and an espaliered apple tree!!!

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    1. WW, sounds to me like you were very restrained! How lovely to have a garden centre that sells espaliered apple trees ... maybe I should go back to mine for another look !

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  2. I think that I would have been tempted too Caro. Not only is the foliage attractive but it sounds an essential finishing touch for all things summery. Hope that you find a perfect little niche for it.

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    1. That's my next job, Anna. I've got to rethink my herb patch now that I've dug up my horseradish. Can't decide whether to keep a bed just for herbs or dot them around. Easier to find in the dark if they're all in one place ... !

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  3. Never heard of Lime Mint either but it sounds lovely. I'd certainly second the notion of restricting it in a pot in the ground - mint is very invasive and as lovely as it is, you may not want it absolutely everywhere!

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    1. There are quite a few herbs that are best controlled in a small space - lemon balm, horseradish and tarragon are a few of the others ... all of which I have in my patch! Might be best to start growing my herbs in giant pots.

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  4. Snap, my latest post has nearly the same title, we all must be impulse buying. I'd definitely plant the lime mint in a container. Our plot was covered in mint when we took it on, and it's still there as it's so hard to get rid of once it's taken hold.

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    1. Good advice, Jo. My garden mint is planted in a pot sunk into the raised bed. As the roots grow sideways, it's been contained but is looking rather crowded now. May have to lift and divide ...

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  5. I think that all gardeners tend to be impulse buyers at times, perhaps that's why I tend to stay away from such places if I can! Flighty xx

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    1. Eminently sensible, Flighty - although it's such fun to browse and discover plants that I was previously unaware of!

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  6. We are all the same aren't we, we go for one thing and then come home with a car load! Really like the sound of your Lime mint, should be delicious in the summer when we are all needing to cool down !!!

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    1. Pauline, we've had some lovely weather this week so I wish the mint was already big enough to harvest a few leaves for a salad. In another few weeks, I might take a few leaves to try ... ! And yes, I usually end up with more than I intended!

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  7. I wouldn't have been able to resist this either. Looks amazing. Do you know about bran flakes for slugs?

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    1. Lorna I didn't know about bran flakes for slugs before. Googled for more info which brought up your blog post from June 2011! I'm intrigued and would like to know where you buy them. If the slugs don't eat them do they disintegrate in the soil ... and, more to the point, if the slugs DO eat them, do the "exploded" slugs disappear, possibly eaten for breakfast by birds? Do tell!

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  8. I have my mint in my raised bed so it's sort of contained. It spreads along every year and every year I dig up the roots, cut it back and get a load of little mint plants to sell/give as gifts.

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    1. I love the smell of mint so I wouldn't have a problem with it spreading, it's just that I need the space for other plants! Am also thinking of sowing some Creeping Pennyroyal - another type of mint!

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  9. There is nothing wrong with impulse buying. Generally speaking, its better to just buy something you really like or need rather than analyzing it to death.

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    1. I'm not sure whether you're agreeing with my post or challenging me! I would say though that, after the event, there is very little analysing on my part as to whether the purchase was sensible. I only ever buy stuff I need, like or want! I'm a simple soul.

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  10. Garden centres are dangerous places for women like us! ;)

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  11. Indeed they are Tanya! My garden is my passion so garden centres, including online ones, are a source of inspiration ... closely followed by book shops where my passions for gardening and crafting are further informed. : )

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Caro x

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