I grow a number of small edibles in large containers, in the interest
of water conservation because I am in an arid zone. My major
mysterious problem in recent years as been some mints -- which I would
have thought would be pretty trouble free. Oregano and sage are native
here, and I try to give them what they needs in nature, namely not too
much water in warm weather Spearmint is European and therefore wants
more water, and I try to oblige.
In both of the past few summers, both spearmint and oregano, though
not sage, began to turn black about half through the summer. I was
feeding them an organic fertilizer, and they were both surely moist
enough, so I tried reducing the water supply, which didn't seem to
help. What is it that they need that I am not giving them?
Salaam-Shalom. This must be do-able, otherwise taboule, as we know it,
wouldn't exist. In repositioning your pots remember, morning sun is the
coolest. Afternoon sun is the hottest. A southern exposure will be
warmer than a northern exposure. I presume you don't have trouble with
too little heat, so maybe try an eastern exposure. A little shade may
help too. If you have a garden, put it in. This normally isn't a real
bright idea because, under normal conditions, mint is invasive and
starts popping up everywher, but drastic times call for drastic measures
(At least in gardening.). Mint is a real opportunist, so be prepared. If
worse comes to worse, start making taboule and mint tea.
Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
I have grown mint in the grown easily elsewhere, in rainier climes,
and defeated the "opportunism" by surrounding the planted area with a
barrier. Mint roots don't go very deep (about 30cm if I remember), so
it isn't hard to limit the invasion.
I do not think I would need to do that here, in an area in which there
is no rain at all from April till October or later; I don't think
rogue runners would survive.
I'm grateful for the shade advice, which explains why the sage (which
is well shaded) doesn't curl up and die like the mint and oregano
(which actually, are getting a bit of shade themselves -- it's
certainly worth a try. On the other hand, the basil is immediately
next to the mint, getting rather more sunlight than the mint or
oregano, yet growing like mad consistently year after year. But basil
is native to warmer regions, Africa and South Asia, and evidently more
I'm in northern California, presently shivering among the redwood.
Normally, no rain here from April to October also. That's why it's
called the "Golden State" because all the hills turn golden brown during
the summer:-) But living in a temperate rain forest means that we can
expect at least 30 inches (72 cm to those of you not used to our
antiquated system of weights and measures and capital punishment, but I
digress) during the rainy season. Twenty miles (32 km) from here
(Cazadero) they get 288 cm of rain/yr.
It is odd that what ever it is affects both the oregano and the mint.
Some of my mint thrives with only three hours of Sun during the summer,
whereas my oregano seems to do better with as much Sun as it can get (8
hrs./day here, during the summer. Which has me wondering about some kind
of wilt (flora, fauna, chemical).
How big are your containers and where does the growing soil come from?
The next time you start up a container I would suggest that you don't
use the old ones unless you can sterilize them first with heat (83C/20
min.) or chemically (chlorine bleach in H2O, so that you can just smell
it, or ozone, if that is available). Then fill the containers with fresh
(preferably sterile) soil (growing medium).
You say that you live in an arid region. Does that mean desert or
chaparral? If the middle of the day is very hot, consider some directly
overhead shade. When leaf temp gets to around 37C, you don't get any
growth anyway because the plant is using it's energy to pump water to
the leaves, trying to stay cool through evaporation.
Mazel Tov (I don't know the Arabic equivalent),
Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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