So, my peppermint plant has really taken off and is growing beautifully. I live in Arizona, and I'm not sure it will survive the summer. What can I do to preserve the peppermint leaves I have now in terms of harvesting? I've never been successful at growing peppermint before. A friend of mine mentioned putting all the leaves in the freezer, and I'm wondering if there are other or similar suggestions out there. Thanks.
Do you plan to use the mint in drinks? If so, I would suggest picking and washing some smaller leaves, then freezing them with water in ice cube trays. That will keep them from freezer burn, and you can just add to tea or drinks to use. Or defrost the cubes.
I also make mint pestos and a mint/parsley/lemon/garlic/olive oil sauce in the blender that I serve with roast pork chops or chicken. Once you make either, you can freeze in zip locks.
My experience with mint is that it does well in partial shade. If the temp gets really hot you might want to cut it back to just a few inches. It should come back when the weather cools.
Here in zone 7 it grows so prolifically that you need to contain it. I plant it in large plastic pots, then sink them into the herb garden with just an inch of rim above the ground. This way the roots can't get to far and take over everywhere. When it gets too root-bound I pull out the pot, divide it with a sharp knife, and start again.
I'm sure your AZ climate is very different from mine here in VA but all I know is that mint is TOUGH! For us, anyway, I wish I'd originally done as MonarchMom mentioned as the mint sent out runners and spread all over the backyard. And it loved our hot summer (so did the bees - it seems to be a great bee and butterfly plant once it flowers!). I'm sure AZ is still quite different but maybe just see how it does?! :)
blessed Catholic mommy to DD 10/07 and DS 2/09, little one due 8/12!
I do the sunken-pot trick with any creeping herb or grass.
I have some gorgeous lyme-grass clumps sunk into 5 gallon containers I picked up at the recycle center. Left on it's own it spreads though underground runners and takes over the yard - especially in sandy soil like I have here at the beach. But sunk into pots it formed a beautiful round clump for an accent planting. You can just see the rim of the pot in the photo.
I also use this technique to over-winter plants from my window boxes. I dig them out, pot them and sink them up to the rim in my dormant veg garden (blue fescue grasses, cone flowers, corral bells, vincas, etc.) for the winter. Come spring, I just lift out the pot, pop out the plants, and back into the boxes they go.