Personally until writing this, I didn’t realize how extremely versatile this little herb was. It would be nice to say that I am an herbal guru, considering I write this every week but I am still learning so much as I go. Lemon balm is not the most popular herb but after reading this post you may decide that it belongs in every herb garden.
One of Brambles servers has been saying lemon “bomb” all week, I’m not sure if has anything to due with the fact that English is her second language but I like to think that’s actually an accurate name considering the burst of smell, and more, the fact that this tough herb is fairly vigorous in taking over the garden!
History: Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and has similarities to chamomile in its calming effects. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety and is native to Southern Europe.
Another interesting fact is that it shares a name with many of my friends. (I know you’re thinking- just because I am named after a plant, doesn’t mean all of my friends are too!) Being born in the 80s means that several of my classmates shared the official name for lemon balm – Melissa! Melissa Officinalis, which means “bee” in Greek, named for its reputation of attracting honeybees.
When to plant: Lemon Balm is one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden! It can grow in a variety of soils but does best in well-drained dirt and in full sun or partial shade.
When to plant from seed: Start indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Keep in mind that Tanglebank has some beautifully potted lemon balm for $3.99 ready to go if you’re looking for a nice new addition to your gardens this year!
Did you know that you can “harden up your plants”? You can make your herbs tough by preparing them to start life in the real world! How you ask? Just put them in a bright windy area (you could also make your own wind by using a fan) your pre planted lemon balm can be moved outdoors 3 month before frost-free date if they’ve been toughened up.
When to harvest: Harvest leaves as needed and don’t forget to thin out your plant because it does tend to be known for “growing like a weed”.
Companions: Lemon Balm is another friendly herb, although it is advised to plant near other plants that need to be pollinated!
Uses: Most common uses for the versatile plant is in herb gardens but also grown for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, even used for furniture polish!
Edible uses: beverages, fish and white meats, jams and desserts, to name a few.
(Yield 4 people)
These two recipes are a perfect treat to kick off the BBQ season! For a stress free patio meal add baked potatoes with all of your favorite toppings and grilled asparagus with fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.
And if you really want to take advantage of this addition to your garden, throw a few stems on the BBQ to ward off mosquitoes from your summer feast!