Organic Emily

Growing and Using Herbs: Peppermint and Lemon Balm

Peppmint and Lemon Balm

I grow my peppermint, spearmint and lemon Balm in pots because they are very invasive perennials!  These are all apart of the same family and have many benefits!  Let’s talk about just a few.

Peppermint

  • Mint is an excellent pest control when grown around the garden and home.  It deters mice, ants,  flies, roaches and moths.  It also attracts beneficial insects like honey bees and other pollinators when allowed to flower.
  • Peppermint has many medicinal properties as well.  It stimulates the digestive system relieving cramps, gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea and other stomach problems.  It is also known to have astringent, antiseptic, antibiotic, antimicrobial components and is great for using on cuts, burns and other wounds.  I use it religiously for headaches!  Whenever I feel the tension coming on I will apply both peppermint and lavender essential oils to my neck and shoulders and it goes away in just a matter of a few minutes!  If you don’t have the essential oils, but grow it in your yard or home try mashing up a few leaves to release their oils, add it to a little bit of olive oil and massage it into  the area needed.  The next time you have a cold try drinking some peppermint tea to help relive congestion.

 

Lemon Balm (Melissa)

  • Lemon Balm, a pollinator attractor, has been known to be a calming herb, both for the nervous system and digestive system.  It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to relieve stress, promote sleep, improve appetite, ease discomfort associated with indigestion and treat cold sores.   I like to make a calming tea using lemon balm with other herbs like chamomile, calendula and peppermint.

 

Drying Herbs

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Before my peppermint and lemon balm get to big and their leaves become smaller just before flowering, I harvest big bunches for drying and using later.  Cut the herbs back towards the ground leaving a few inches of the plant.  Don’t worry they will come back with a vengeance and you can do it all over again in another few weeks!   From there you can rinse any dirt or bugs off the plants and dry them one of 3ways.  First, you can do it the way I did here in the picture.  Tie a rubber band around a bunch and then thread a piece of twine through hooking it to a hanger.  Allow to dry out of direct sunlight, hanging upside down for a week or two.  Second, you can take the leaves off the stems and dry in a dehydrator.  It’s certainly the fastest way to dry anything!  Third, get a screened frame and allow the herbs to dry on top under the shade of a tree, again out of direct sunlight.  Once the herbs are completely dry store in a cool dark place, preferably in a glass jar.

 

Fruit Salad

For a heavenly addition to any fruit salad try adding chopped fresh mint, lemon balm, basil or even lemon verbena!  You can do what I do and make a simple raw syrup to put over a big bowl of freshly chopped fruit.

2 limes zested and juiced

2 tablespoons raw honey

1/4 cup chopped peppermint or 2 tablespoons chopped lemon balm, basil or lemon verbena

 

 

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

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