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Video: Melissa Officinalis Or Lemon Mint - Cultivation And Use
Melissa, a wonderful herb, aromatic and medicinal
Features of culture
Melissa officinalis, lemon mint, honey, mother plant, swarm, bee (Melissa officinalis L.) - all these are the names of one spicy-aromatic plant of the labiate family. Melissa reaches a height of 30–80 cm.
It comes from the Mediterranean and Iran. It was cultivated in ancient Greece and Rome, then the Arabs adopted its culture, who, in turn, brought it to Spain as a spice and medicine in the 10th century, and from there it spread throughout Western Europe.
In our country, lemon balm grows wild in the lower reaches of the Volga and in the Caucasus (possibly as an alien and feral plant). It is widely cultivated in the fields and gardens of Southern Europe and the USA. In our culture, it is not widespread, mostly grown by amateurs, although in the middle lane in the garden it grows quite well.
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It can be grown on balconies and in rooms, but the technology for growing it in a room culture is almost not developed. The stem of lemon balm is tetrahedral, branched, slightly pubescent, densely covered with petiolate opposite, ovate large-serrate leaves up to 6 cm long and 3 cm wide, which are covered with glandular hairs. The lower lateral shoots are creeping. The rhizome is highly branched.
Melissa blooms in the second year after sowing, in July - August. Flowers are light purple, pale blue, pink or light yellow, collected in false whorls in leaf axils, good honey plants. Bees can collect up to 150 kg of honey from one hectare of lemon balm. In the south, it bears fruit in September. The fruit is dry, consists of four small brown or almost black nuts with a diameter of 1.5 mm, the weight of 1000 seeds is 0.62 g, they retain their germination for two to three years.
Melissa is light-requiring, but if necessary, it can grow in shade. She is sensitive to cold, prefers warm places and rich in humus, loose and deep loamy and sandy loam soils. Melissa is responsive to organic and mineral fertilizers. It is drought-resistant, in waterlogged places it is often affected by fungal diseases.
Breeding lemon balm
Lemon balm is propagated by seeds (sown directly into the ground or grown through seedlings), as well as by layering, cuttings, root cuttings, and dividing old bushes in the spring.
Seeds for seedlings are sown in March - April, they do not need stratification, the seeding rate is 0.5-0.7 g / m2, the seeding depth is 1-1.5 cm. Seedlings appear after 2-4 weeks, they dive or thinned out at a distance of 5x5 cm, fed with nitrogen fertilizers. When 3-5 true leaves are formed, when the threat of frost has passed, the seedlings can be planted in the ground according to the 20x40 cm scheme.
By dividing 3-4 summer plants are propagated in spring or August. Each division should have roots and 4–5 buds.
Propagated by layering in March - April.
Before planting seedlings on the site for lemon balm, apply 3 kg / m? manure or compost, on heavy soils add sand, as well as mineral fertilizers (N, P, K) at 10-15 g / m2? of each element according to the active substance. In the spring, they are fed the same doses of ammonium nitrate and potassium salt, and the amount of superphosphate is increased to 25–30 g / m2. If desired, in the middle lane and to the north, you can grow lemon balm as an annual crop.
Melissa in room culture
As mentioned, lemon balm can also be grown in room culture. It is especially advisable to do this for those amateur gardeners who want to have this crop on the site in a small amount, for themselves. In this case, in the fall, you should dig up one or two lemon balm bushes and plant them in pots that can be placed on the windowsill. The main condition is good lighting, additional lighting is desirable.
In the spring, cuttings are cut and rooted from the bush, and the bush itself is divided into several parts. With the onset of heat, both cuttings and cuttings are planted in the ground. With such cultivation, it is possible to harvest a sufficient amount of greens of this spicy-aromatic plant for one family. And in winter, on the windowsill, it will be possible to pinch fresh leaves.
And if we add to this the decorative appearance of plants and the phytoncides they release into the air, it turns out that this is almost the most versatile indoor plant. However, the technology of growing lemon balm in room culture has not yet been developed and represents a wide field of activity for those indoor floriculture lovers who want to start growing it.
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Harvesting and using lemon balm
The spice is the leaves and the entire aerial part of the plant, they are used fresh and dried. You can collect lemon balm during the entire growing season, but the highest quality material is harvested during flowering.
The smell of leaves harvested later becomes coarser. Lemon balm is cut only in dry weather. When mowing, the greens are cut at a height of 10 cm from the soil surface. After this, it is advisable to feed the plants, especially they need nitrogen. Usually a complex mineral fertilizer is applied with a dose of 10 g / m2? for each active ingredient.
To prepare seeds, the plants are cut when the lower ones turn brown, in the middle lane this usually happens in early October. The cut plants are tied up and hung over a newspaper, piece of plastic or tarp, on which the seeds are poured. Then they are cleaned of debris and packed.
The taste of lemon balm is bitter-spicy, slightly astringent, refreshing with a lemon flavor and aroma of freshness. It is used both fresh (contains up to 150 mg% vitamin C) and dried. Dried quickly, in a ventilated room, inaccessible to sunlight, at a temperature of 25 … 35 ° C.
With good vegetation, it is possible to collect lemon balm two or three times. Its leaves contain 0.2% essential oil, tannins, bitterness, mucus, resin, sugar, vitamins C, B1, B2, carotene. There are many macro- and microelements in them. Melissa has an antispasmodic, analgesic, wound healing and antiemetic effect, has a calming effect on the nervous system, improves appetite, the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, helps with flatulence and spasms, increases bile secretion. Galenic preparations (medicinal teas, decoctions, etc.) are prepared from it.
An infusion of it is taken for shortness of breath, asthma, insomnia, anemia, as a laxative and diaphoretic. Pure essential oil is also obtained from it. Lemon balm is used in the production of liqueurs, in particular, chartreuse and benedictine, tinctures ("Erofeich", etc.), various balms; it is highly valued in perfumery. As a spice, fresh leaves are added to salads, sauces, vegetable dishes, soups. They are also used in the preparation of poultry, fish, veal, pork, lamb, game, mushrooms. And also lemon balm leaves are eaten with grated cheese, cottage cheese, put them in dishes made from milk, eggs, fruit soups, compotes, jelly, kvass.
Lemon balm is also used for canning cucumbers, added to fresh and sauerkraut, used as a filling for pies. When boiled, lemon balm loses its taste and aroma to a large extent, therefore it is better to put it in ready-made dishes. Memo for beekeepers: Melissa means bee in Greek. Its aroma attracts and soothes bees, swarms willingly settle in hives, rubbed inside with lemon balm, and never fly off, it is no coincidence that it is also sometimes called bee valerian. And honey from it is curative.
Lemon balm tea (25-30 g of herbs are poured into 1 liter of boiling water, infused for 30 minutes, drunk 1 glass 3-4 times a day) is a pleasant, healthy and healing drink. In folk medicine, it is drunk as a laxative and appetite stimulant, as well as for stomach neurosis, headache, dizziness. Outwardly, lemon balm is used for taking aromatic baths. As already noted, it is grown mainly in the southern regions of the country.
In the middle lane and in the North-West in the ground, it does not always successfully winter, it freezes out in severe winters, and requires shelter. In addition to the wild form of lemon balm, there are two cultivars: Erfurt and Quedlinburg creeping. Unfortunately, lemon balm as an ornamental, as well as indoor, as a spicy-aromatic, as a medicinal plant in our country is clearly underestimated. I would like to hope that after this publication, the wonderful plant will have new fans.