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Video: Lemon Balm Or Herb Honey (Melissa Officinalis), Features Of Cultivation And Use
Features of cultivation and use of lemon balm
For several years I tried to grow lemon balm on a windowsill; it should be noted that it grew well all year round. I tried to plant it in the open field, alas, the lemon balm disappeared. The gardeners I knew, to whom I told about this, claimed that, apparently, I weeded it out like a weed. Then I found out that, it turns out, this culture does not really like winters.
But in one place on the site, the lemon balm plants still took root. This happened, in my opinion, most likely because the planting of lemon balm was next to a pile of manure. So her rhizomes climbed there, overwintered under the edge of the heap, and then in each new season the plants reappeared.
The generic name for lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) - Melissa (family Yasnotkovye) comes from the Latin word melissa - honey bee. Among many peoples, her medicinal qualities were highly valued, it was not for nothing that the Slavs called her bee, swarm, honey, bee, honey or lemongrass, queen bee, lemon balm, lemon mint, citron grass.
Although lemon balm is credited with Mediterranean origin, it is naturally found in Central Europe, the Balkans, Asia Minor and Iran. In the more southern latitudes of the territory of Russia and the CIS countries, it is considered an invasive plant. Melissa was cultivated as a medicinal plant two thousand years ago by the ancient Greeks and Romans. She enjoyed considerable respect in the Arab countries, where the infusion of fresh lemon balm leaves "… filled the heart with joy and joy." In the 10th century, the Arabs brought it to Spain, after which it began to spread throughout Europe.
In the Middle Ages, the rule of good form among the English nobility was to scatter lemon balm leaves around the rooms before guests arrived to refresh the air.
In the wild, lemon balm usually grows in sufficiently humid places among bushes, on the edges of forests, along the banks of rivers and streams. Melissa is now cultivated in many European countries (Italy, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria) and in the USA. The German varieties Erfurt upright and Quedlinburg creeping are widely known and are popular in industrial cultivation.
Melissa is a perennial herbaceous cross-pollinated plant 80-130 cm high with a highly branched rhizome. Large ovoid leaves up to 6 cm long and up to 3 cm wide (serrated at the edges of the plate). They are located on a branchy, straight, tetrahedral, slightly pubescent stem, opposite: on the upper side - dark green, on the lower side - lighter. The leaves are covered with glandular hairs, glands, reservoirs of essential oil. Melissa flowers are combined in false whorls in the axils of the upper leaves. The fruit is dry, decomposing into four ovoid nuts - dark brown, smooth, 1.5-2 mm long. The mass of 1 thousand seeds is 0.44-0.6 g. Their germination remains up to three years. Seeds do not need stratification and begin to germinate at a temperature of 10 … 12 ° C, but the optimum temperature for their germination is 20 … 25 ° C. When propagated by seeds, the plant forms a well-developed rosette of basal leaves in the first growing season (only some individuals bloom by the end of the first year, but the seeds do not ripen). Only from the second year of life, all plants regularly bloom (June-August) and bear fruit.
Melissa is a thermophilic, weakly winter-hardy plant, therefore, in the conditions of the Leningrad region, plants usually freeze. Because of this, it has to be grown as an annual crop, although in principle it is capable of growing in one place for up to 8-10 years under favorable wintering conditions. To reduce its sensitivity to low temperatures, it is necessary to choose well-lit places for it, protected from cold winds. At the same time, lemon balm can grow in conditions of significant shading, but in this case it blooms very weakly, its plants are less fragrant (the accumulation of essential oil is reduced) and forms a ground mass weaker than one planted in an open place.
Although lemon balm is considered unpretentious to various soils, in order to obtain a high yield, it is still preferable to place it on light structural, rather fertile, slightly acidic soils with moderate moisture. On heavy clayey acidic soils, this culture suffers greatly. With an excess of moisture in the soil, plants are severely damaged by causative agents of fungal diseases.
The strong root system of lemon balm provides the plant with the necessary amount of moisture, so it does not suffer from drought. At the same time, it is advisable to additionally water it with a moisture deficit in the soil during budding and flowering, otherwise yellowing and partial loss of leaves occurs.
A small plantation of lemon balm is best placed on the edge of the site. It is better to propagate it by seeds and dividing the bush, but it can also be propagated by layering of stems and green cuttings. With seed reproduction, seedlings appear in 3-4 weeks. If the plants have 2-3 pairs of leaves, the seedlings are thinned out, leaving a distance of 25-30 cm between them. In the conditions of the Leningrad region, it is better to grow lemon balm seedlings, which are easy to get in room conditions or in a greenhouse in March - April. Seeds planted to a depth of 0.5-1 cm begin to germinate in 9-12 days. After the formation of 3-5 true leaves, small plants are transplanted to a permanent place in open ground according to the scheme 70x30 cm, when the threat of frost has passed.
If lemon balm is cultivated as an annual crop, then some thickening of the plants is possible - 45x25 cm. When propagating by dividing, the bushes are dug from a 3-4-year-old plantation in early spring and the rhizomes are cut. On each segment, roots and 4-5 buds are required. Such delenki are placed according to the 30x30 cm scheme. Reproduction by layering of stems is usually carried out on plantations of the first year, since there are many creeping stems here. In the spring, many offspring appear from the dormant rhizome buds and underground stems.
For the favorable growth and development of the above-ground mass of lemon balm, sufficient plant nutrition is necessary, it is very responsive to the introduction of mineral and organic fertilizers. The soil is dug up in the fall and 3 kg / m2 of rotted manure is applied, and on heavy soils, sand is added. The rate of mineral (NPK) fertilizers (10-15 g per m2) is best applied just before planting. The perennial plant is fed twice - in early spring and after cutting off the young aboveground mass. By the way, remember: a lack of moisture leads to drying out of the plant, and an excess leads to its diseases.
Care for a lemon balm plantation is simple and consists in loosening row spacings, weeding and watering.
In the conditions of the Leningrad region, the leaves and stems of lemon balm are harvested in dry weather in the first decade of August. This is the budding phase, when plants accumulate the maximum amount of biologically active compounds (especially essential oil). After harvesting, the leaves are separated from the stems, dried in the shade; store raw materials in dry, well-ventilated rooms in a tightly closed container.
Considering the slight shedding of lemon balm seeds during ripening, their collection begins when the fruits are browned in the lower part of the inflorescence. After the cut plants have dried, seed sampling begins.
This perennial plant is a wonderful honey plant: from 1 hectare, up to 150 kg of high-quality healing fragrant honey are obtained. Beekeepers are well aware that the scent of lemon balm attracts and soothes bees, which is why they call it "valerian bee". They often plant it near new apiaries, spread the grass at the bottom of the hive, or rub it with juice to attract bees. Some beekeepers practice rubbing their face and hands with lemon balm water to protect themselves from stings.
The aerial part of the plant has medicinal value; it contains 0.08-0.1% of essential oil with a bitter-spicy taste. It contains about 30 components, among which the most important is citral (up to 60%), which determines the specific lemon scent. In medicine, the leaves and tips of the shoots are usually used, which are collected at the beginning of flowering. The resulting essential oil is used in the medical, food, canning and alcoholic beverage industries, in perfumery and cooking.
Traditional medicine of many peoples has long been widely used this plant as a sedative, anticonvulsant, analgesic, choleretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, regulating digestion and cardiac activity. Now scientific research has confirmed the sedative effect of lemon balm on the central nervous system; it enhances the motor activity of the stomach and the processes of regeneration of the gastric mucosa. In Bulgarian medicine, its herb is recognized as an antispasmodic, analgesic, nerve-soothing, appetite-stimulating agent. It has a beneficial effect on the stomach, on the brain, especially in case of dizziness. This plant turns out to be the base for teas both in pure form and in a mixture with mint and oregano. To make tea from lemon balm, take 25-50 g of raw materials, pour 1 liter of boiling water and leave for 20-30 minutes. Tea is drunk in 200 ml 3-4 times a day.
Lemon balm infusion is used internally for general weakness of the body, high blood pressure, externally - for rheumatism. Recommended for increased sexual excitability, they lower blood pressure. Infusions are used to rinse the mouth with gum disease. Dried lemon balm is stored in paper or canvas bags in a cool, ventilated place.
Melissa is included in the recipe for the manufacture of high-quality alcoholic beverages, for example, the classic Russian tincture "Erofeich", for the aromatization of wines, balsams. It is also used in the production of soft drinks, as well as in the canning of vegetables - pickling cucumbers and tomatoes, which gives them a particularly piquant taste and strength, as well as in the preparation of fruits that do not have their own strong aroma. The use of leaves and young stems as a spice adds a slightly astringent, bitter-spicy aroma to salads, soups, game, mushroom and fish dishes. Milk and egg dishes (for example, omelets) acquire a subtle aroma. Thanks to aromatization with lemon balm, they acquire a specific extraordinary taste of jelly, kvass, compotes, preserves, jams from apples, plums and cherries. You just need to keep in mindthat during heat treatment, the delicate lemon aroma of lemon balm almost disappears, so it is added to ready-made dishes. By the way, lemon balm loses its aroma when dried.