Mint makes a great addition to the garden because of its many culinary applications. It is quick growing and known to be a vigorous, rugged plant. To keep it from taking over your garden harvest it often and pull up runners as they branch out. Some people prefer to grow it in containers to prevent it from growing like crazy.
No matter if you grow it in a container, or in the ground, there are some tips to follow when harvesting to keep your mint plant growing healthy and strong.
1. Take first cutting early in spring
Mint will be one of the first plants you see making an appearance in your garden come spring. As soon as it is big enough to harvest, feel free to take what you want/need. This early harvest will encourage the plant to grow from secondary growing points, causing it to become bushier instead of growing upwards.
2. Pinch with fingers or use sharp scissors
Tearing leaves off can be damaging to the mint plant. Either pinch pieces off with your fingers or use clean, sharp scissors to get a nice straight cut. Gardening Know How talks about the benefits of pinching plants to encourage healthy growth.
3. Frequent harvesting is healthy
This vigorously growing plant will benefit from frequent harvests. So feel free to take off of the plant as often as you'd like, as long as you are following the other tips mentioned here. Frequent harvesting will keep the plants from getting leggy or too overgrown.
4. Don't remove all leaves
When harvesting mint for use, make sure to never remove all of the leaves from the plant. It needs some leaves left on it to encourage new growth.
5. Only take 2/3's of new growth
Even though it's recommended to harvest your mint plants frequently you want to do so with caution. Never take more than 2/3's of the new growth when harvesting to avoid damaging the plant or stunting successive growth.
6. Cut back 1" from ground just before flowering
When the plant is gearing up to flower, this is a prime time to harvest mint because the flavor in the leaves is the strongest. At this point, Veggie Harvest recommends cutting the entire plant back to about 1" above the ground. In most growing zones it's possible to get three such harvests in a single growing season.