Minty Badness

Although mint is a wonderful addition to any herb enthusiast’s indoor or outdoor garden, make sure you plant it in its own container or separate area of the yard. Mint is what is known as an “invasive” species of plant, which means that it will quickly grow to take up an entire plot or planter, aggressively choking out any other unlucky inhabitants.

My wife and I experienced this destruction firsthand when we planted mint along the back wall of our house last spring. Initially we enjoyed how its bright green leaves and tendrils grew every which way as the beguiling scent of mint infused our garden. Eventually, however, it grew to suffocate and kill the innocent tomato plants and other herbs we had planted on either side. No matter how often or severely we cut it back, it always vigorously re-established itself within a day or two.

One morning that summer, I came downstairs for a cup of coffee only to discover that several tendrils of mint had crept under the back door in a thick, fragrant jumble. I cut them back immediately, but upon my return home from work that evening, they had reappeared. When we tried to watch the news that night, a tendril of mint slapped the remote control from my wife’s hand and switched the channel to PBS. Later, another leafy offshoot rummaged through the refrigerator and made itself a meatball sandwich. Little did we realize it was to be the beginning of the end.

Concerned at this brazen display of botanical force, I went to the library to do some research into herb care and control. It was there that I discovered an obscure historical record of the little-known Mint-American War of ’27, during which U.S. Special Forces risked life and limb to drive hostile fields of invading enemy mint back across the Canadian border.

It pained me to discover that as a nation we have forgotten those dreadful days, when American troops were cruelly and systematically drowned in iced tea by ruthless masses of invading enemy mint. Since then, how many years have we spent being lulled into blissful security, muddling our long-dormant foe into Juleps and pounding it into jelly? Did we think these peaceful days would last forever? How did we fail so completely to retain and take to heart the lessons of the past?

My time grows short. There is so much I wanted to say, but I will need to bring this account to a close. The mint is at the door. I can hear it rattling the handle; the sweet, smug smell of its triumph hangs in the air. My descendants, if you’ve discovered this journal, I hope to God it means you have survived this herbicidal onslaught. Please, do everything in your power to avoid repeating the mistakes of your forefathers, and their forefathers. In our ignorance, we thought we were safe to grant free reign to mint in our gardens once again. How wrong we were. And now we pay the price.