Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Garden Bounty 2009: Lemon Balm

I do love herbs. I have always wanted a herb garden, and I even had a dream of becoming a herbalist and herbal healer back when I was much younger. Culinary herbs are more my bag now, and this year I grew cilantro (let's not go there, OK?), basil (and we all know how well that turned out, don't we?), chives (which did nothing - I think I planted them too close to the neighbouring peony and they didn't get enough sun) and something wonderful called lemon balm.

Part of the mint family, lemon balm gives off a wonderful, lemony scent. I was surprised to find seeds for this at my local purveyor of cheap gardening crap, Wally World, and when I did, I was delighted and didn't hesitate to purchase a package.

Again, I made a huge error when I planted the seeds: I misjudged how large the neighbouring plants would grow. In this case, the neighbouring plants were my bean plants, and if you recall, these were so out of control and I got so many beans I couldn't give them all away - and I froze nearly 3lbs. This is a big problem for me; I have no concept of spacing when it comes to my garden. It doesn't help that the garden itself is small and narrow, and as such I do take some care in where I plant things. But I feel the need to utilize the space as best I can and this has led to some errors in judgment - like with the chives. And this was the case with the lemon balm.

The seeds took forever to sprout and I didn't see any growth poke through my soil for weeks. They have a longer germination time, as I read on the seed package, but even so, these didn't start showing any signs of action for a long time after I expected them to. In the meantime, the wax bean plants took off as if they were on steroids (I used nothing on them, I swear!) and before long, the lemon balm was living in the shadow of the lush bean leaves. As a result, I got a very poor, very small, very stunted crop. When I yanked the bean plants at the end of August, which was when they started to dry up and stop producing (it was almost a relief, I was so overwhelmed with beans), I thought the lemon balm would have a fighting chance. How wrong I was; it never had a chance. Early frosts, blahx3, and I got next to nothing. I was disappointed and annoyed with myself.
I did get a very small amount, and I had to pick them and do something with them just so I could feel slightly less disappointed and annoyed. I decided to make some cookies. Initially, I thought I would make shortbread with lemon balm, but the idea evolved and I got over-ambitious. I also got a shitty result.

I won't even post the recipe because it's an adaptation I made and since it was just an abject failure I don't even want to spend the time typing it out. It was my own fault; I should have known better than to do what I did and I have no on to blame but myself.

So, what did I do with the cookies? I took them to my brother & SIL's place for our family dinner and left them there! Jem is like Mikey; he'll eat anything!

14 comments:

Coleen's Recipes said...

Great herb story. This was my first year growing herbs too. I grew something called pineapple mint that smelled fantastic but I didn't know what to do with it.

Palidor said...

Ooh, nice to know about the spacing issuing when planting. Not that I plan to start my own garden anytime soon (ack, I hate dirt), but maybe one day!

Donna-FFW said...

Love the way you just tell it like it is.. shitty result... took off like on steroids.. you are funny! Thanks for the morning chuckle.

Pierce said...

That's such a drag when a recipe doesn't work out.

I made your lemon chicken last night, speaking of lemon...kinda...and it was wonderful. I still need to upload the photos.

girlichef said...

Oh man, how frustrating! That is why I love neighbors and community gardens and Farmer's Markets. As much as I love to get my hands in the earth and be pleased with the results...I also get frustrated very easily.. Won't stop me from trying, but at least there's backup ;S

Cathy said...

It's so frustrating when the things you plant don't live up to your expectations isn't it? Good try though...bet next year you will rock that herb garden! Don't give up!

highlandsranchfoodie.wordpress.com said...

I'll have to look for lemon balm next spring. I wonder if it's one of those that takes over the yard? Have you ever tried Lemon Thyme? I plant it and use it in alot of stuff. A nice lemon flavor.

Bob said...

Gardening can be a challenge. It's a live and learn kind of thing, really. Aren't I helpful? ;)

Bellini Valli said...

Love lemon balm in my iced tea!!!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I bet the lemon balm comes back in full force in the spring. It is pretty hearty.
Great that your beans did so well - mine didn't do much this year.

Nat said...

Oh WC, I faced the same dilemma. Although it was just in my ity bity window box, I planted like 4 herbs side by side, and the basil plant grew so huge that the others ran out of space...and withered away. What's more...the basil plant thrived...and grew out of control till it nearly fell out of the box and I had to tie it down with some twine .... i got so annoyed with my self that i threw it in the garbage a couple weeks ago...: ( ... SO YES, I so understand your passion for herbs. however,... nothing beats the experience you gain through trial and error when dealing with the fragile nature of herbs... once you get the hang of it however, I am CERTAIN you will do so well that you will out shine Ina Garten : )

Elra said...

I don't really have lemon balm in the garden, maybe I should plant them. Some seeds do take forever to germinate. If that the case, I'd normally buy the seedling.

sp said...

Don't be surprised if you see your lemon balm come back next year. It can be a bit invasive once it sets in. It's very hardy. I had a bit of a lemon balm problem at my last place. It cropped up everywhere. In my new place, I keep it confined to a pot where it seems just as happy.

Shelly W said...

That sucks! Don't despair, though. I ended up with several volunteer lemon balm plants in my back yard last year. I have no idea where the hell they came from, but they took off. This year they doubled in size. I bet you'll have it coming outta your ass next year. Better get some recipes handy so you can use it!

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