Lemon Balm wars!!!!

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In my younger and more ignorant days, I planted my first two raised herb beds; the first had chives, lemon balm and spearmint, and the other lavender and some annuals. Silly me. Those two members of the mint family, lemon balm and spearmint, looked so tiny and sweet and innocent in their little pots.

They swallowed the chives, and dived under the restraining railroad ties and lawn fabric, and came up in the opposite bed. Lemon balm threatened my lavender on several occassions. If you want to see a violent woman, threaten my lavender; it took three years to get started, and the smell is heavenly! They then combined genetic forces and came up with a hybrid that is definately in the mint family, and smells (kinda) like catnip with lemon overtones. No use to me, but very ambitious just the same! I figured they had plans to take over my yard, after seeing the lemon balm burrow under the railroad tie, under a brick sidewalk, thru a patch of lawn, under another raised bed, and come up on the OTHER side of the raised bed, nearly 20 feet from it's launching site! This ment war, and I resorted to chemical measures (Roundup). The warfront was pushed back enough to allow me to grow chamomile, feverfew and basil last summer, but tiny lemon balm and mint plants continue to pop up their heads, seeing if the coast was clear for another invasion.

I replanted my chives this spring, encouraged by the sight of a ragged refugee chive plant that had survied the onslaught. But the foe agin gathered it's forces, and my Feverfew was hollering for reinforcements as the enemy advanced toward it, and the chamomile gave up altogether. Again I attacked, this time with a shovel, and started ripping out the bed as close as I dared to my plants. You would not BELIEVE the knotted masses of woody root and plants that I dug up and sifted out of the soil. I took no prisoners, but fed the POWS to the chickens, who lept on them with cries of joy (the worms in the roots and clinging soil were a nice garnish). I figure if they survive the chickens, we were ALL in trouble.

Kind folks, learn from my mistakes. NEVER plant a member of the mint family without something to restrain their roots. I did plant peppermint last summer (we use a lot of it in teas for sinusy colds), but put it in an old whiskey barrel. So far, it has behaved itself....as long as I cut off the advance spy parties that try to touch the ground!

-- Leann Banta (thelionandlamb@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000


Hi Leann, I'm sorry you had to go to war with your lemon balm-you're funny. You may not appreciate this but lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs. It doesn't take over either. I have it in my main garden and in my lemon garden. I also have a lemon balm cookie recipe that is delicious and I will share it if anyone want it. In my lemon garden I have lemon balm, lemon mint, lemon catnip, lemon thyme, lemon sage, lemon verbena, lemon southernwood. I'm waiting on lemon grass-now there's a wonderful herb. I also have lemon sorrel but not in that garden yet. You might talk the Japanese beetles to leave your corn alone and infest your lemon balm, they love the stuff. Lemon balm and mint make a wonderful tea. Put both in a jar of water and set them in the sun, ooo good stuff. Also make ice cubes with borage flowers and mint leaves, put in lemon tea. You can add a little fresh lemon juice too. Feverfew is taking over my garden this year. Chamomile comes up everywhere. Oh well, I hope you enjoy your herbs.

-- Cindy (atilrthehony_1@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

Poor Leann. I guess that's an upside of living here, I don't have to plant mint family in confinement, they never survive more than a few years. Hope you and your lemon balm hybrid can come to some sort of agreement. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

In my younger days I planted purple ruffled basil, to make my pesto dramatic looking. It went to seed and came back as its grandmother, the more normal looking green basil. I have literally an 1/4 acre of this stuff, it is waist high and of course the goats won't eat it, but oh how good them smell when they walk through it! When folks come and want some they want a little tiny baggy full, instead of the truck load I need someone to want! They will come and get one plant instead of 100! Dispersed among all of this basil is still the odd plant of the pretty purple ruffled basil that started all of this. There are just some herbs that need to be grown in containers and pulled out of the ground before they go to seed. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

Cindy: Please post the recipe for the cookies! They sound wonderful. I was just thinking of putting in an herb garden myself in some raised beds, now I may have to rethink my strategy! Jan

-- Jan in Colorado (Janice12@aol.com), June 23, 2000.

Cookies sound like a good revenge to me! Please send the recipe! I have two more clumps; one I am keeping (with stern measures) and the other I am keeping just long enough to take to my folks at the first chance! Their's died...musta been a small atomic explosion in her herb bed or sumthin'. I know she has nice, rich soil, and mine is lovely clay....which is why I have our raised beds!

-- Leann Banta (thelionandlamb@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

Lemony Oatmeal Cookies...1/3c. canola oil...1/2c. pure maple syrup...1/4c. lemon balm tea ...2T. arrowroot or kudzu...1T. fresh lemon juice...1t. pure vanilla extract... 1 1/4c. whole wheat pastry flour...1/4t. baking soda...1t. baking powder...14c. very finely minced fresh lemon balm leaves...1c. rolled oats...1/2c. raisins..the rec doesn't call for salt, but I add about 1t. it really needs it. preheat over to 350. In medium bowl. combine oil, maple syrup, tea, arrowroot, lemon juice and vanilla. Use electric hand mixer to mix well. In large bowl, combine pastry flour, b-soda, b-powder, minced lemon balm, oats and raisins. Mix well. beat in wet ingredients, using a large rubber spatula. don't overmix; about 15 strokes....Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper(I don't, I spray it) drop tablespoon-sized mounds onto it. Bake in middle of the oven til lightly browned around the edges-12 min. Cool on wire rack before serving. Variation: If you'd like to glaze the cookies, use a pastry brush to spread a bit of all-fruit apricot jam on each one while still hot. I haven't done that, but I bet it's good. I served these last year along with cucumber sandwhiches, baby corn and fruit in ice bowls when I had friends over for lunch, we ate them in the sunflower house.

-- Cindy (atilrthehony_1@yahoo.com), June 25, 2000.

I wish I was able to have a lemon balm war. Every plant I've ever had has died. I think it just doesn't take well to dry California.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (littlebit@calinet.com), June 26, 2000.

I'll take a truckload of basil!! We just started a few herbs in our greenhouse, including Lemon Balm....thanks for the tip!

-- Betsy (sassyweitzel@yahoo.com), June 26, 2000.

Cindy, thanks for the recipe - but - was there a typo, or does the recipe really require 14 cups finely chopped lemon balm? The way mine grows (and grows...), getting 14 cups wouldn't be a problem - LOL!!! However, the cookies would be a tad on the green side, no? 1/4 cup seems more reasonable. Thanks again for the recipe. Judi

-- Judi in CT (ddecaro@snet.net), June 26, 2000.

Leann, I guess you really CAN have too much of a good thing! I actually encourage things like that to take over my lawn, but they won't.

-- Laura (gsend@hotmail.com), June 27, 2000.

Yep, that was an oops. I can't even blame that one on being dyslexic. 1/4 cup. There I did it right.

-- Cindy (atilrthehony_1@yahoo.com), June 27, 2000.

You must have furtile soil. We have such heavy clay soil here in this area of Kentucky that my friend and I look through the seed catalgues for the "invasive" plants thinking they might stand a chance! I also have lemon mint/balm. My husband brought me some home years ago and it has survived. I planted it on an erroded hillside so I have noothing but praise for the job it's done in helping to heal the errosion. I put it in salads in the early spring, in teas, in salad dressings, etc.

-- deborah carmichael (brownswiss99@yahoo.com), June 27, 2000.

How about Lemon Balm Cheesecake? Haven't tried it, but might this week just to get rid of some of my garden. It's pretty, smells great, but enough is enough!

PASTRY: 1 c. flour 3 oz. butter in small pieces Pinch of salt

FILLING: 2 oz. butter 2 tbsp. honey 12 oz. cream cheese 2 eggs 6 tbsp. finely chopped lemon balm

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make pastry: Cut 3 ounces butter into 1 cup flour until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add pinch of salt and enough water to make a soft dough. Roll out and line a 7 inch pie tin. Prick bottom. Bake 15 minutes. Make filling: Beat butter, honey and cream cheese until soft and creamy. Beat in eggs. Fold in lemon balm. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour filling into crust. Bake 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with whipped cream.

-- Nancy Wilkes (nwilkes@levitytechnologies.com), May 20, 2001.

Yikes!!! I just bought lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint and gingermint this week. Glad I read this before I added them to my garden. Maybe I'll just keep them in a tub. We have an above ground pool sitting on blocked-in sand. I wonder how it would do growing in that sand. Would the kids trampling it kill it? It sure would smell good. I would love to have chamomile. Does it grow well from seed?

-- Mona in OK (jascamp@ipa.net), May 21, 2001.

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