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'Encroachmint:' When Your Mint Plant Takes Over Your Garden (And Some Varieties That Won't!)

Fresh green mint plants in growth at field
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If you want to feel good about your gardening prowess, plant mint! It is easy to grow and care for but it can also quickly overcome your garden space. You don't have to give up your mint-growing dreams, though. Just choose a variety like pineapple mint or banana mint and they'll keep to their space.

If you want to get a nice reward for planting, plant mint. Peppermint, spearmint and lemon mint, in particular, are very aggressive plants.

Those mint plants may take over your garden so plant them in a place where you can keep them under control.

Some other unusual mints are not as aggressive. Those varieties taste and smell like their names, too: banana mint, apple mint and pineapple mint. These are not as aggressive mints and you can mix them into your garden.

For the more aggressive mints, try growing them underneath fruit trees. Instead of putting mulch around the base of the trees, plant mint there. It will spread a bit into the lawn and when you mow, it will smell like mint! Then just pick the mint as you need it to add to smoothies, tea and other recipes.

Another way to keep peppermint and spearmint in check is to keep plants in a container. When you purchase mint, keep the pot it came in and then bury the whole thing, pot and all. The container will act as a barrier so it doesn’t grow out of control.

You can bring mint plants indoors in the winter, too. To do this, just cut it back in the fall, make sure it's still in that pot, bring it into a sunny window and let it grow all winter long.

Q: I have two volunteer peach trees that came up in my raised beds. I read your article about planting purchased trees but would love some advice specific to transplanting and nurturing baby volunteers! - Sarah, in Middlebury

Young fruit trees or nut trees are great to grow. Just keep in mind that if you’re growing fruit trees from seed, that tree could take years, maybe even over a decade, to flower and fruit.

Also, with volunteers, there is no guarantee you'd even get it to fruit or flower. With these types of trees, it's hard to know what variety it might be, as well.

If you want peaches sooner, head to your garden center and purchase a tree that's been grafted with a named variety and it will flower and fruit sooner.

Q: How do you keep groundhogs from eating your produce in the garden? - Joyce, in Bakersfield

In the case of industrious groundhogs, fencing is your friend.

Choose wire fencing that’s three or four feet tall and attach it to posts, but leave the top foot of fencing free.

Then, towards the ground around the border, leave enough fencing so you can create a little apron pointing out and away from your garden. Cover that with mulch or grass clippings.

When the woodchuck or groundhog comes up to that fence, their first inclination is to dig down. When they do, they'll hit the fence and get discouraged.

The woodchuck might then try to climb the fence to go over it. But because you left the top foot of fencing free, the woodchuck’s weight will bend it and bring them back to the ground. This should encourage them to go elsewhere!

Heather, in Manchester has a question about jumping worms and compost

Jumping worms or snake worms are a very bad pest in forests and gardens. If you have them in your garden and compost, you don't want to try to encourage them there.

Continue making your own compost but do it in a barrel or a tumbler that is not in contact with the ground.

If your compost pile is touching the ground, jumping worms or snake worms can get in there. These worms love organic matter and even though they do digest a lot of it and aerate the soil like earthworms do, they digest so much that they deplete the nutrients in the soil, making it less nurturing for plants.

One resource for more information on jumping worms comes from Josef Gores at The University of Vermont’s Entomology Department.

Next week we'll be talking about planting for fall. So send us your questions!

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on VPR. Be part of the fun and send your gardening questions here, for Charlie to answer on the air. Plus, find lots of great gardening tips and information for all seasons here. For more gardening information, check out Charlie's website, Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie is a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Engisch is the host and reporter for Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday on VPR.