You can't buy lemon balm in the supermarket. The best way to have lemon balm for a refreshing summer herbal tea is to grow it yourself.

How to Grow Lemon Balm: 

Soil: Lemon balm prefers a moist, rich soil

 

Position: sunny and partly shady. Lemon balm is best kept in a pot because the roots grow thickly and the matted roots can be hard to dig out if they are left to grow unrestricted.

Height: approximately 50cm

Propagate: easiest by root division in spring when the new growth has begun.

Pests and disease: can occur if the plant recieves too much shade during the day and fungus is allowed to grow.

Harvesting: lemon balm can be harvested at any time, however the leaves are more flavoursome just before the plants begin to flower.

Companion Planting:

Lemon balm is said to be beneficial when grown with many vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, tomatoes and melons.

Cooking With Lemon Balm:

Lemon balm has strongly lemon-scented foliage and is often used in herbal teas or added to cold water for a very refreshing summer drink.

The flavour goes well with fruit, salads, fish and poutry. It can be used with or in place of lemon in recipes.

Medicinal Uses:

The leaf of the plant is rich in essential oils, in particular, citral and citronellal, which have calming and soothing actions on the body.

In herbal medicine, lemon balm is used to treat colds and flu, to calm nerves, to induce sleep and to calm the digestive system in conditions such as IBS.

Lemon balm is anti-viral and has been used effectively to treat cold-sores.

For a calming effect, try using lemon balm in the bath. Place a handful of lemon balm in a cloth bag and run the bath with warm water. Soak for at least 20 minutes and relax. Lavender, chamomile or rose petals could also be added in this way for a beautifully fragrant bath.

Simone Jeffries

B. Health Science (Naturopathy)

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