Gardening books are a great help for beginners gardeners like me. Am going through this book recently – The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit cos I thought it’ll be great to know more about what I am growing.
These are the interesting tidbits about Lemon Balm that I felt useful:
Species: Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm). Hardy perennial. Height 75cm, spread 45cm or more (oops, I think my pot is too small as usual).
History: This ancient herb was dedicated to the goddess, Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks some 2,000 years ago. The generic name, Melissa, comes from the Greek word for bee and the Greek belief that if you put sprigs of balm in an empty hive, it would attract a swarm.
In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to soothe tension, to dress wounds, as a cure for toothache, mad dog bites, skin eruptions, crooked necks, and sickness during pregnancy. It was even said to prevent baldness, and ladies made linen or silk amulets filled with lemon balm as a lucky love charm. It has been acclaimed the world over for promoting long life.
Germination: Common lemon balm can be grown from seeds. Germination takes about 10-14 days.
Pests & Dieases: The only problem likely to affect lemon balm is a form of the rust virus, cut the plant back to the ground and dispose of all infected leaves.
Garden Cultivation: Lemon Balm will grow in almost any soil and in any position, but it does prefer a rich, moist soil in sunny position with some midday shade.
Culinary: Lemon balm is one of those herbs that smells delicious but tastes like school-boiled cabbage water when cooked. Add fresh leaves to vinegar. Add leaves to wine cups, teas and beers, or use chopped with fish and mushroom dishes. Mix freshly chopped with soft cheeses.
Medicinal: Lemon balm tea is said to relieve headches and tension and to restore memory. It is also good to drink after meals to ease digestion, flatulence and colic.
Other uses: This is a most useful plant to keep bees happy. The flower may look boring to you but it is sheer heaven to them. So plant lemon balm around beehives or orchards to attract pollinating bees.
My Lemon Balm Plant at 4 weeks old
* The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit – The Definitive Sourcebook To Growing, Harvesting & Cooking