Friday, April 20, 2012

New Addition: I'm Feeling Balmy

When my friend Jessica showed up at my door Monday night with a large bucket of lemon balm, I was ecstatic! She and her husband have a large vegetable garden and the lemon balm was taking over one of their garden boxes, so they passed some of it along to me! Here is a picture of it in its new home...

I've never grown lemon balm, but I knew it is in the mint family, so I decided to keep it in a pot to avoid the take-over situation Jessica ended up with. It has a lovely lemony/minty fragrance and I knew that it is edible. However, I wasn't sure what lemon balm is used for, so I did a little bit of research. Here's what I found:

  1. Lemon balm is an herb in the mint family (already said this). This means it will grow EVERYWHERE and invade an entire bed if planted in the ground. I've even heard stories of mint growing UNDER driveways and coming up on the other side! That said, it should be contained.
  2. Lemon balm is often used as a flavoring for ice cream (this sounds amazing) and tea. I'm also thinking of infusing a simple syrup with it. I think it would be stunning in a cocktail!
  3. You can rub it on your skin for natural mosquito repellant!
  4. It is self-sowing.
  5. It attracts bees.
  6.  Greek folklore recommended lemon balm as a cure for poisonings and mad dog bites (random fact of the day).
If you want to read more on lemon balm, here is the Wikipedia article I found. It has quite a bit of interesting information. There is also an interesting chapter on lemon balm in Herbs Demystified by Holly Phaneuf. You can pick up your own copy, or you can probably also find it at your local library.

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