Last spring I made a huge mistake and bought a mint plant at the grocery store. It was an impulse buy, and even at the time I knew it was a bad idea to buy a plant from a grocery store rather than from a garden center. But I wanted to be able to make my favorite drink at home whenever I wanted, so I got it despite my better judgment. So that’s how I ended up with a pathetic little mint plant that’s never produced a leaf big enough to really use, although towards the beginning I was able to scrounge up enough smallish leaves to make this delightful mint julep:
Generally speaking, mint plants grow like weeds. Everything I’ve read says that you have to be careful to contain them (i.e., don’t plant them directly in a garden) because they’ll take over everything. I saw a good example of this when I was camping in West Virginia last summer: the entire riverbank was a forest of mint plants so lush they were almost bushes. But ever since I bought this stupid plant, it’s been a fight for survival.
Later in the summer, some guys power-washed my house and fence, and the residual chemicals all but killed my plants. This is what Minty looked like a little while after that:
I really thought that was the end, but it kept on growing. For the most part, it only grew up (and up and up…) and didn’t fill out at all. The winter was especially rough for it once I had to bring it inside, because all my windows face sad, sunless north. Still, I didn’t toss it out. I’m not really sure why I didn’t. I bought it for making mint juleps, which I couldn’t make with it, and it wasn’t even very green. Just sort of viny and droopy.
I started hardening it as soon as the days remained consistently above freezing. The improvement was instant. And ever since then it has continued to improve, albeit slowly.
Don’t get me wrong – it continues to be almost completely useless to me. I should probably still get rid of it. But I don’t think I will. I kind of like it. It continually defies both me and its own odds of survival; it marches to its own beat. This scrappy plant is its own man. And that is a very admirable thing, even in a plant.