Lemon Balm

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Lemon Balm Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is easily recognised by its sweet lemon scent. It is a wonderful herb to grow in borders and immensely useful in the home or the kitchen.

Originally native to the Mediterranean region it is now commonly seen growing wild in Britain – usually the result of garden escapees! It is a rampant grower and should be kept confined to pots in the same way as its close relative the common mint.

The Greeks grew this for medicinal purposes 2000 years ago and believed that if they left a sprig of Lemon Balm in an empty bee hive that it would attract a swarm. The generic name for the plant ‘Melissa’ is actually derived from the Greek word for bee.

It is still used in a wide range of herbal medicines to this day, and is a great culinary herb… makes an interesting wine too!

Growing Lemon Balm

The Lemon Balm is a relative of the common mint, and when growing should be treated the same way as it is just as invasive. It can be grown from seed, or purchased as a small plant from the garden centre, however it is very easy to propagate by dividing existing plants, so ask your allotment neighbours and if they are growing Lemon Balm you will probably find they are only too happy to give you some for free. 

Lemon Balm is usually upright growing and usually reaches a height of between 30-60cm, and plants should be set between 25-30cm apart. Mix in plenty of well-rotted manure before planting, and if planting in pots as recommended it's also worth using some water retaining gel in the compost mixture.

To combat disease cut off shoots to ground level each autumn, and if it has cropped heavily add a top dressing of well rotted manure.

Propagation

Lemon Balm can be grown from seed, divided, or propagated by root cuttings.

Using Lemon Balm

Fresh leaves can be added to teas, or used fresh in a number of dishes – Chopped Lemon Balm with a little grated garlic is excellent sprinkled over risotto before serving!

It is also used frequently in herbal remedies, and is said to reduce flatulence and used as a treatment against insomnia and depression.

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

Website: allotment.uk.com

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