The mint is a well-known perennial herb. It is found all over in village and towns. The leaves are used for flavouring soups, sauces, and beverages and as chutneys. It acts as a digestive and carminative and carminative. It has also antidotal properties and is used to counteract poisons. The mint juice stops vomiting and nausea. Elephantiasis and varicose veins are improved by prolonged use of grounded mint leaves. It is indigenous to European continent and the Mediterranean area. In fact, a number of types are wild and cultivated mint types are grown in India. However, the pepper mint and spear mint are the important commercial types for extraction of essential oil. The mint leaves (M.Spicata) contain per 100 gm fresh leaves – Moisture 83.0%, Protein 4.8%, Fat 0.6%, Fibre 2.0%, Carbohydrates 8.0%, Mineral matter 1.6%, Ca 0.02%, P2 0.08%, Fe 15.6 mgm Vit A 27009 U, Vit C 50mg per 100gm.
TAXONOMY AND VARIETIES
The important mint types are described below and all belongs to family Labiatae and genus Mentha.
About 30 species have been recognised.
- Mentha Spicate
Linn It is the spearmint. It is perennial, producing leafy stolons. The plant is smooth, erect and reaches a height of 60cm. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, acute, sessile and irregularly toothed. The flower spikes are long, narrow and terminal. The flowers are pale violet. It is very aromatic and is considered as best mints for flavouring.
- Mentha Piperita
Linn It is common peppermint. It is an erect, branched perennial. Leaves are elliptical to lanceolate, nearly glabrous, serrate, gland-dotted with long petiole. Flowers terminal and pale violet in colour. Its oil is extracted by distillation and is used in medicine and bakery industry.
SOIL AND CLIMATE
Mint is grown all over India during winter and spring and practically it can be grown in all kinds of soil with good drainage. The crop cannot tolerate water logging. Mint can be grown on a wide range of soils but prefers sandy loams and loams which are well supplied with orangic matter and which have perfect drainage.
The soil should be deeply ploughed, about 34 to 40 metric tons of F.Y.M or compost should be applied per hectare before ploughing. As the mint remain in the same soil for a number of years, subsequent manuring and tops dressings with fertilizers are necessary. Every year at the close of the rainy season, the inter cultivation should be done to loosen the soil and weeding should be done completely.
Mint is propagated by division of roots or by cuttings of runners or stolons. The best material can be obtained from the stock plants, which are less than 3 years old. The cuttings are planted in rows 22cm apart and 15cm between plants. The time to plant either in October-November or in March. In hills it should be planted in April. During winter the crop require atleast two irrigations per week and four irrigations during summer. During heavy rains the plant wither but new leaves reappears after the rains.
Mint is mostly harvested during winter and spring but leaves are available throughout summer also. Cut the shoots of about 70 to 100 millimeters long during early part and 150-200 millimeter long when the crops mature. To prevent drying the bunches are usually immersed in water or water is sprinkled over it.