Afternoon Harvest, May 13, 2010

As every year, Lemon Balm is growing in profusion in the shade, right up under the walnut tree.

I love Lemon Balm! It’s so bright and cheerful, and it smells so good. Today I harvested a basketful to make Lemon Balm Honey.

That’s a big basket, but there’ll be plenty left to take to market. A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm is joyfully vigorous.

Lemon Balm honey tastes like lemon lollipops wish they could taste. It’s amazing on scones or biscuits, and also in tea–especially Rose hip tea, maybe with some Calendula flowers or Rose petals added. I also had this urge today, while I was cutting up the leaves for the honey, to mix lemon balm honey with cream cheese and spread it on gingerbread or ginger cake. I may try that, when my honey is ready!

My good friend (and Reiki teacher) makes sun tea with fresh Lemon Balm leaves, and sometimes a few sprigs of mint. This beverage uplifts the mood, and is also very cooling and anti-inflammatory, great for those summer days when you feel all hot and bothered (and not in a good way). I plan to try it with lemon balm honey added this summer, just to see what it tastes like.

Want to know how to make herbal honeys? Here’s a great how to article on the making herbal honey, syrups, and cough drops.

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2 thoughts on “Afternoon Harvest, May 13, 2010

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I love this new blog, and your idea of selling such beautiful flower bouquets at the farmer’s market is great. And your garden is looking so beautiful!

    Interesting you get lemon balm to grow well under walnuts. We get told all these things like nothing grows under walnuts, so I love hearing about how that’s not entirely true.

    cheers,
    lus.

    1. Actually there are several things that will grow under or near Walnut trees. There are baby Hawthorn and Filbert trees under mine that sprouted up as volunteers, and they are growing at a prodigious rate, as is the Elderberry bush/tree I planted there, and the Forsythia bush planted years ago by a former tenant. I also have a variety of Artemisia ludoviciana growing there, some orange Day Lilies (not sure which variety), and a Fennel plant (another plant that many other plants don’t like). There’s also a lot of Pink Toadflax at the edges, reseeded from some that was planted in the garden years ago, two Boneset plants, some Poor Man’s Orchid, and a lot of Sweet Woodruff. At the very edge of the Walnut’s territory (still under the drip line, though) I have blue Forget-Me-Nots. Only Lemon Balm grows right up next to the tree though; I don’t know if it’s because of the juglone released by the Walnut, or just because the shade is so deep there. But most of the other plants I mention are growing 3 to 5 feet out from the trunk, well under the canopy of the walnut branches, and in the presence of many dropped walnut hulls and leaves. All are thriving and spreading beautifully. And of course, to my dismay, Blackberry and Bindweed are quite happy to hang out under the Walnut tree. And Thistles. And Grass.

      According to Toby Hemenway in Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture, you can also grow Hackberries and Currants (Currants, apparently, will only grow under Walnuts if Hackberries are ALSO present). Some plants in the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family can handle juglone, as will Goumi, Russian Olive, and in the Southwest, Apache Plume. At the edges of the the Walnut’s drip line you can grow Mulberries, Black Locusts, and Acacias, which can provide a sort of buffer zone between the Walnut and more sensitive plants.

      Books on Permaculture offer a lot of information that runs counter to conventional gardening wisdom, and are worth looking in to for a number of reasons. That said, I arrived at my successes by trial and error, and happy accident. Many of the things there, I planted before I knew they “shouldn’t grow under a walnut tree”. The plants, apparently, didn’t get that memo either.

      So there you have it–the most long-winded response to a comment ever! Hope it’s helpful.

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