Lemon Balm and Lettuce

  • Post published:04/08/2009
  • Post comments:9 Comments

L is for lilies, liatris, lilacs and lemon balm and lettuce.

One of the joys of an herb garden is the way perennial herbs appear so very early in the spring.

Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, has beautiful crinkled bright green leaves and the delicious sweet fragrance of lemons. It is hardy; a strong grower that allows me to give divisions to anyone who admires it in the garden.

I love having lemon balm in the garden for the simple pleasure of its scent when I brush it. Functionally, for the most part I use lemon balm fresh in iced tea or other summer drinks. However, it can be preserved by drying.

Like all herbs it should be harvested before it flowers. Chose a day that is hot and when warm dry weather is predicted for several days. Cut the whole stem and leaves, leaving enough stem to produce another crop. Be careful not to bruise the leaves as you work. Gently place the stems on drying trays in the shade, or in an attic heated by the summer sun. You can also hang them inside paper bags, and let them dry in that same shady place.

Historically lemon balm tea, possibly sweetened with honey, has been credited with granting long life .
Two weeks ago I was seduced by a six pack of lettuce at the garden center. On March 31, after a warm spell, I succumbed and planted it in the sunny herb bed in front of the house. Since then it has surived some frost, but I’m beginning to think my optimistic welcome of spring was a big mistake. There is a dusting of snow on the ground this morning.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Pat - Arkansas

    First, thanks for your visit to my “L” post. Much appreciated.

    Second, thanks for the information on Lemon Balm. I planted Lemon Balm in my herb bed years ago, and it’s since spread out to take up most of one end. I, too, love the smell of its leaves, and have used it in, and to make, tea.

    I’m sorry you got snow on your brave little lettuce. A replanting a bit later, perhaps?

  2. Joy

    I love herbs for their scents. Your interesting post makes me want to grow some lemon balm.

  3. Tumblewords:

    Lovely post – I’m going to try to find some lemon balm – the scent must be wonderful!

  4. gone to the dogs

    I love all of your Ls. Don’t you just love the new growth in the spring. We still have quite a bit of snow but it is melting fast.

  5. JGH

    Thanks for the lemon balm tips! I’m setting up an herb bed and am looking for some perennial herbs to grow, so I’ll be putting this one on my list.

    We got snow here in Nyack today too! Luckily it didn’t stick.

  6. Commonweeder

    Pat – I know very well how lemon balm can spread.
    Joy – the fragrance is delightful, and it is so hardy and easy to grow.
    Tumblewords – I wish I could give you some of mine!
    GTTD- The sun is shining this morning, but there was more frost.
    JGH – I would have thought Nyack would be safe! Poor us.

  7. Powell River Books

    I was taken in by a six pack of romaine just yesterday. Hopefully we won’t get a cold snap here. I never do it, but the price was so right it was hard to pass up. I chose lake as my contribution. I invite you to come see my 10,000 year old lake water. – Margy

  8. Celeste

    I love having fresh herbs to pick, unfortunately I live in an apartment on the 21st floor so my options are limited but I do have some success. Great post – I hope your lettuces survive the cold snap đŸ™‚

  9. Commonweeder

    Celeste, it is fortunate that apartment living doesn’t totally disallow herb growing. And the lettuce doesn’t look totally dead. Yet.

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