Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a very adaptable ancient herb that is found in gardens everywhere!

It is in the mint family, as are many culinary and medicinal herbs. Many mint family plants go dormant over the winter in our area. In our garden, Lemon Balm is first to greet spring with new green leaves. Sometimes it even stays green and lush through most of the winter.

Lemon Balm has a pleasant mild lemony-mint flavor. It makes a great cup of tea, and the young tender leaves can also be added to all kinds of salads. It is sometimes used in spring rolls, stir fry, curry, and Thai dishes as well. Any recipe that calls for basil can be given a new taste sensation by substituting Lemon Balm.

Lemon Balm also has a long history of use in cosmetics and as a gentle medicinal plant. It is a great carbon fixer, and when mature produces lots of organic matter that us useful in making compost or adding to mulch.

In addition the flowers (which are inconspicuous) attract bees--especially mason bees--and other pollinators and beneficial insects as well.  Providing for and attracting pollinators and beneficial insects is part of the important and necessary work of every gardener.

Here are some links to everything you need to know to get started using Lemon Balm for tea, flavoring, cosmetics, or as a gentle herbal remedy:

If you have never made tea from fresh herbs before, check out this link:

Tips for using Lemon Balm in cooking can be found here:

Here are some great recipes to try:

You can treat yourself to a home spa day with a Lemon Balm bath and home made Lemon Balm toners and astringents:

If you want to explore its medicinal properties check out this link:

For more fun things to do with Lemon Balm see:

Lemon balm is easy to grow from seeds.  Plants can be found through local plant sales, nurseries, and on-line herb specialists.  Many gardeners receive their first plants from other gardeners and then pass along the offspring.  Lemon balm is a reliable self sower to the extent that some people consider it a pest.  If it gets pesky in your garden, cut it back to the ground about midway through its first flush of tiny flowers, before they set seed.  Mature clumps can also be divided with a shovel, to reduce their size and share with friends.

Most of the text posted here originally appeared on Growing Together Community Garden's Facebook Page, where I have been gardening for the last three years and where I have been the coordinator for the last 2 years.  

Please feel free to link, share, or pin, this or any content on my blog.  Repost or republish only with written permission.  Copyright 2015, text and photos, Harvest McCampbell, all rights reserved. 

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