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Favourite Herbs: Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

Semi-hardy perennial; usually grown as an annual in colder climates

Height 20 to 80 cm, can reach 1.5 m; spread to 60 cm.

Loosely branched, with upright growth habit.

Try these!

Melissa officinalis (common lemon balm) is the most common variety and is widely available.

Planting

Lemon balm may be started indoors from seed or grown from young plants purchased from a garden centre.

How much: At least two plants.

When: Early spring; can withstand a light frost.

Where: Full sun; will tolerate part shade. Gold or variegated types prefer partial shade. Prefers well-drained, sandy soil. Space plants 30 to 45 cm apart.

Care & Nurture

Lemon balm is easy to grow! Prune regularly to promote bushiness. Cut plants to ground level when flowers begin to appear. Where lemon balm grows as a perennial, it should be divided every three to four years in the spring or fall to encourage new growth. Lemon balm is susceptible to powdery mildew.

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season, until the flowers begin to bloom.

For best flavour: Harvest only young leaves: older leaves have a stale, musty flavour.

Leaves: Clip individual leaves as needed. Cut sprigs and use whole, or strip the leaves. Discard leaf stalks.

Flowers: Edible, but not normally eaten.

Preserving the Harvest

Lemon balm is at its best used fresh: the leaves lose their intense flavour when dried or stored. Preserve by drying.

Tips

  • Lemon balm self-seeds and spreads easily, so you might want to grow it in a pot or isolate it in a section of your garden.
  • Like all lemon-scented herbs, lemon balm’s flavour is more intense when grown in poorer soil, but the overall plant growth will be lusher in rich soil.

To Note:

  • As the name implies, the leaves of this herb give off a strong lemon scent when crushed. It’s a wonderful plant for attracting bees; in fact, the genus name for lemon balm, Melissa, comes from the Greek word for bees.
  • Lemon balm may be used in aromatic herb baths. Dried leaves add a lemon scent to potpourris and herb pillows.
  • Lemon balm is the basis for the famous Melissa cordial Eau–de-Mellise des Carmes. It is also important in Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs.
  • In the language of flowers, lemon balm symbolizes sympathy.
  • Lemon balm is reputed to repel flies and ants.
  • An infusion of lemon balm may be used as a facial balm and as a rinse for greasy hair.
  • The London Dispensary in 1696 stated that “Lemon balm given every morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain and relieve languishing nature.” The Swiss physician Paracelus called lemon balm the “elixir of life.” He believed that the herb could completely revive people.
  • The word balm is a contraction of balsam, traditionally considered the king of the sweet-smelling oils.

Garden Stage Q&A with Jim Hole

Bring all your gardening questions this Saturday & Sunday at 1:30PM to our Garden Stage for a Q&A session with Jim Hole.

Let Jim give you the best advice to get your garden growing like a pro.

There is no registration required for our Garden Stage Q&A with Jim, but this segment will follow Jim's FREE Workshop at 1PM, so be sure to register online for the workshop if you would like to attend both!

Dig In: St. Albert's Horticulinary Festival!

Dig-In, St. Albert’s Horticulinary Festival, is an exciting weekend of culinary adventure that will excite you with the possibilities and benefits of eating locally grown food.

Through celebrity hosted meals, along with a series of demonstrations and hands-on workshops, participants will learn how to grow food in an urban setting and to prepare and preserve their own produce. Additionally, those who take part will discover the delicious joy of food they've grown themselves.

Chef Desiree Nielsen, star of the Gusto TV show The Urban Vegetarian, teams up with the Glasshouse Bistro to prepare a special one-time brunch menu. Filled with healthy options and lots of fresh ingredients, this interactive multi-course brunch will allow you to put the finishing touches on some of your dishes and taste some amazing health-boosting brunch options.

Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, star of HGTV's Restaurant Makeover and The Food Network's Dinner Party Wars, teams up with the Glasshouse Bistro to prepare a special, one-time brunch and dinner menu. Flavourful, organic, and locally sourced, these interactive multi-course meals will allow you to taste some recipes right out of Chef Corbin’s kitchen.

Get your tickets today at: www.diginstalbert.ca

Mark About Town

Mom had a tremendous love not only for gardening but also for politics, current affairs, symphony and opera. As a result, I grew up listening to CBC radio because its programming closely matched Mom’s areas of interest. Even though I had a love for Heavy Metal music – which definitely wasn’t a part of the CBC’s programming - I soon grew to appreciate the programming that CBC offered. I later realized that Mom’s love of CBC radio was coupled with her desire to get me to love Handel as I did Hendrix!

Well she succeeded – for the most part. At home, my radio is always tuned to CBC and I do like classical music, but Hendrix will always be a part of my music library.

This Thursday, October 1st CBC will really be hitting close to home because CBC’s Edmonton AM show will be broadcasting from our Glasshouse Bistro. Host Mark Connolly will be doing his monthly ‘Mark about Town’ right in the bistro and we will be providing free Iconoclast coffee and delicious amandine croissants and cinnamon Brioche buns (sponsored by our friends in the Enjoy Centre – Averton Homes) which will be available from 6am -8:30am so pop on down and say high to Mark Connolly and me. 

There will also be draws for Bob Dale gardening gloves, Mom’s Bulb Books and a complete Microgreen, mini-greenhouse growing kit.  And please join me on a tour of our greenhouses. You can see how we grow poinsettias with water captured from our roof.

See you Thursday!


~Jim Hole