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lemon balm shoots

Yes. I know it’s been ages ….but when there’s no time for blogging there’s more time for lots of exciting projects. You will be informed in due course. (What a tease!)

I admit to having a bit of a soft spot for some garden thugs – mint, borage. lemon balm….you know, the kind of plants that once planted never seem to go away and benefit from a bit of roughing up and restriction. Tough love rules where these fellas are concerned.

It won’t have escaped your notice that I’m also a succour for a plant that is multi-purpose. If it smells good, tastes great, is good for you and holds its own in a bunch of cut flowers I’m a fan.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered to be a calming herb helping to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep and  improve appetite.  Even before the Middle Ages, it was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. I happened to mention that it helped with stressful situations and found several pupils at school snacking on the odd leaf around exam time last year. (Using it to make tea or sorbet is better.)

As you see from the pic, we’ll have to wait a bit for lemon balm in abundance but the taste of Summer is only weeks away. Jekka’s herb cookbook has several recipes for lemon balm but my all-time favourite use for it is not in her book. Jekka. let me enlighten you, my friend. The delights of lemon balm pesto await. I can’t remember where it came from but I do know that I’ve twiddled with the original recipe, as is my wont. Here it is for when your garden and the supermarket carpark is over run with the stuff.  You won’t regret it.

Lemon Balm Pesto

2 packed cups of lemon balm leaves

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

salt

Easy peasy method… Combine the lemon balm, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor. Give it a quick whizz until everything is finely chopped, but not completely pulverised. Add the lemon and slowly drizzle in the oil while the machine is running. Add salt to taste.

Use some elbow grease method…. Finely chop a 1/3 cup of the lemon balm with the garlic. Continue chopping the lemon balm, a 1/3 cup at a time and working it in. 

Once all the lemon balm is mixed in, start incorporating the walnuts into the mix. Keep chopping until everything is very finely mixed. It should take about 20 minutes and should leave you glowing nicely.

Place everything in a bowl, add lemon, oil, and salt. Stir to mix well. 

Meanwhile during #britishflowers hour on Twitter a week or so ago. (Monday 8-9pm, for the uninitiated) someone happened to mention Lime Balm in cut flower arrangements. There’s a lime version? My ears pricked up. I had to have some.

Guess what? Everybody wanted some but nobody had any. Cue finding the detective outfit in the dressing up box. I AM the reincarnation of Miss Marple without the ability to knit obviously. And so, my friends, I can reveal that I will soon have some seeds in my possession courtesy of a roundabout route involving my lovely stateside sister.

I will publish developments and may be in the market for some swopsies. Watch this space.