Lemon balm is a fragrant herb from the mint family that is commonly grown for its aromatic leaves. It is native to Europe and the Mediterranean but is widely cultivated in other parts of the world. The leaves of lemon balm are known for their lemony scent and flavour and are often used in teas, salads, and as a seasoning for various dishes. Additionally, lemon balm is believed to have several medicinal properties, including calming and soothing effects, and has been traditionally used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other ailments. It is a hardy perennial that can be grown in most climates and requires well-drained soil and regular watering. Lemon balm can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or division of the root ball, and can be harvested throughout the growing season.
How to Grow Lemon Balm Organically
- Choose the right time: Lemon balm is a perennial herb that can be planted in the spring or fall.
- Select a location: Lemon balm prefers well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 to 7.5. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade.
- Prepare the soil: Loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches and remove any rocks or debris. Add compost or aged manure to the soil to improve soil fertility and drainage.
- Plant the seeds or seedlings: Lemon balm can be grown from seeds or from small plants. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 12-15 inches apart. If planting seedlings, space them about 12-15 inches apart.
- Water the plants: Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
- Fertilize the plants: Lemon balm does not need a lot of fertilizer. You can add a light application of organic fertilizer, such as compost or fish emulsion, once or twice during the growing season.
- Control pests and diseases: Lemon balm is generally pest and disease-free, but it can attract aphids and spider mites. Use organic methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control pests.
- Harvest the leaves: Lemon balm leaves can be harvested when the plant is 6-8 inches tall. Cut the leaves from the stem and use them fresh in your favourite dishes. You can also dry the leaves and use them in tea.
Following these steps will help you grow lemon balm successfully and enjoy its bright, lemony flavour in your culinary and medicinal creations. Lemon balm is also known for its calming and stress-reducing properties.