Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
Lemon Balm Melissa Officinalis Organic Seeds
Melissa officinalis or “Lemon balm” is a highly-scented herb, best known for its use in tea, but this fantastic herb has a number other uses.
This perennial herb with heart-shaped leaves makes a nice green clump of medium-textured leaves among the other herbs and flowers in your garden.
Sow March to May
The seeds need temperatures of around 20°C (68°F) to germinate.
Seeds can be sown indoors in trays or pots containing good quality seed compost, or can be sown directly where they are to grow.
Sow seeds thinly in shallow drills in full sun. “Just cover” the seeds with a sprinkling of soil or vermiculite, as they need light to germinate.
Germination: 12 to 21 days.
Days to maturity: 30-40 days
They require consistently moist soil; do not let them dry out in between watering. Transplant when they have their first set of true leaves and are still small Lemon balm plants should be spaced 30 to 38cm (12 to 15 in) apart.
As an indoor potted herb, lemon balm can provide its fresh, light aroma to your home year round. Keep it in a sunny location, and don't let it go dry, it needs regular watering because the large leaves are big drinkers. To insure an even and regular supply of moisture, consider providing a wicking system for your plant. Use a quality prepared potting soil and select a pot that's on the small side, five inches or less. Potted plants do better when kept a bit crowded. If your plant starts to get leggy, it needs more sun.
The young, fresh leaves can be used in drinks, with fruit and milk puddings or a fruit salad. It also goes well with fish, chicken and game. Lemon balm compliments basil, chives, parsley, mint and dill.
Like many other herbs, it is best used fresh rather than dried and the flavour will be brighter if added near the end the cooking process.
The great Paracelsus called lemon balm "The elixir of life", It has been used as a tea for centuries, made from the fresh or dried leaves and is considered a “calming” herb.
In medieval times it was used medicinally to cure all forms of ailment from crooked necks to morning sickness, it was thought to be beneficial to help heal wounds, treat venomous insect bites and stings and for alleviating pain from gout.
Today it is used to induce relaxation and a sense of well being, improve appetite and aid digestion, and used to combat migraine, hysteria and depression. Often used in combination with other herbs, it is said to be useful against colds and fevers, influenza and catarrhal conditions. In the recent BBC series “Grow Your Own Drugs”, ethnobotanist James Wong discussed the healing power of lemon balm and presented a recipe to make a lemon balm lip salve to for cold sores.
Lemon Balm makes a suitable companion to many other vegetables, fruits and herbs. It is especially beneficial to tomatoes, squashes, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, and other cabbage family plants.
Dried leaves can be made in to a herbal powder mixture and distributed throughout the garden to deter many insects.