Oh Lemon balm, my sweet balm, my companion and friend, travel with me on this journey and stay by my side. They say that it is not good for man to be alone, so will you be my companion in my life’s journey? In a world so full of haste and rush, waste and gush, we all need a true friend indeed, will you be mine?

This simple and unassuming plant, that doesn’t have the excitement of it’s cousins in the mint or specifically the ‘Mentha species’. We all know the wow factors of peppermint and spearmint, let alone their many other brothers and sisters, such as apple, chocolate, ginger, orange and pineapple mints. Yep, who needs a salad bowl when all you need to do is grow a range of mints.

But back to the story.

Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis, is a native of the Mediterranean and Central Europe, and now has become naturalised all over the world. The first documentation of its name is actually, melissophyllon, which means, ‘honey leaf’. But where did the name “Melissa” come from for Lemon balm? Actually, it is Latin for “bee”, why, because bees were often seen buzzing around the herbs flowers and seems to be a powerful attractant to them. The connection between bees and lemon balm don’t stop there, apparently lemon balm flowers make excellent honey, of which I don’t doubt. The plant was rubbed onto, and grown around the hives to prevent swarming and to settle them into their new homes.

It is also a great attractant to butterflies!

So in an age when bees are being massacred by the millions, maybe we should all be planting lemon balm everywhere.

Dioscorides, a famous ancient Greek physician, promoted the idea of drinking lemon balm in wine, plus, it could be used topically by placing the leaves on dog bites and scorpion stings.

A little side note: when I discuss with people the errors of alcohol consumption. I often get quoted back to me the Bible verse, ” use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake”, 1 Timothy 5:23, which is only a ‘cherry-picked’ quote. I am reminded that it was common place to use and dispense herbal remedies in alcohol back in ‘those days’. And honestly we haven’t changed, herbalists and pharmacists still use alcohol today, in herbal tinctures and cough medicine. That’s why when you read further on, it also says, “and thine often infirmities”. The Apostle Paul was telling Timothy, if you’re sick, take your medicine, sounds familiar?

Pliny the Elder, suggested lemon balm be used to stop bleeding, this would have been topically.

Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as ‘Paracelsus’, a medical revolutionary, believed that lemon balm was ‘to make the heart merry’ and ‘revived spirits’.

The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.” — Paracelsus

Lemon Balm

Mr Nicholas Culpeper, calls lemon balm, simply Balm, and suggests the balm for many indications, but to quote from his book he states, and quotes Seraphio, ” It causes the mind and heart to become merry, and reviveth the heart, faintings, and swoonings, especially of such who are over taken in sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind arising from melancholy or black choler; which Avicen also confirmeth.”

During the middle ages it was so often suggested for so many diseases that it was then that it began to be called by one of its common names – Cure-all. In the early times of America’s colonisation, lemon balm was regularly used for menstrual cramps, this was also eluded to in the time of Culpeper, suggesting that it “procure women’s courses”.

Now the herb lemon balm is used the world over, and has many different names for each country for example, in Russia, where it is called – Melissa lekarstvennaja, it is one of the most popular herbs for both culinary and medicinal use.

To give you an idea of just how wide spread across the world and the variety of names it has just check the ‘short list’.

  • Arabic – Louiza
  • Chinese – Xiang feng cao, (Mandarin); Heung fung chou (Cantonese)
  • Czech – Medunka lékarská
  • Dutch – Citroenmelisse
  • Estonian – Sidrunmeliss
  • Finish – Sitruunamelissa
  • French – Valverde boutons de fievre crème
  • German – Bienenfang
  • Hindi – Baadranjboyaa
  • Hungarian – Orvosi citromfu
  • Italian – Citronella
  • Korean – Kyullhyangphul
  • Nordic – Hjertensfryd or Moderurt
  • Persian – Badranjboya
  • Polish – Melissa lekarska
  • Brazilian – Erva-cidreira
  • Slovak – Citra
  • Slovenian – Navadna melisa
  • Spanish – Balsamita mayor
  • And in Sweden – Citronmeliss

How To Use Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is an easy to use herb, simply because you are working with the leaf, you can either pick a few fresh leaves off the bush, grab a few dried leaves or powder out of the cupboard or use a few drops of oil out of a bottle.

Herbal Teas

Lemon balm tea is just so simple to make, and frankly most herbal teas are. Now I believe that one of the main things to do before you drink it is to allow a bit of aromatherapy to happen by breathing in deeply the volatile oils given off from the brew. Smell is just so important, and has more ‘power’ than we think over our minds.

Simple Lemon Balm Tea

  • Chop up enough to make two to three teaspoons of fresh lemon balm
  • Place the lemon balm into a tea cup or mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep in the volatile oils
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes (It doesn’t seem to become bitter like some teas.)
  • Add a sweetener, such as raw honey or stevia if needed and enjoy

Customised Lemon Balm Teas

Lemon balm can go with many other herbs, that you can ‘customise’ your own version of lemon balm tea. Straight away one can think of other ‘lemon’ flavoured ingredients to add, such as lemon grass, lemon verbena, and freshly squeezed lemon itself. Plus, you can add a selection of mints, such as apple, pineapple or orange mints.

Sometimes, I add in Ribwort to Lemon balm with lemon grass to help if I have a sore throat or a cold coming on, and to arrest it before it starts. Then there are other herbs which are calming, such as, chamomile, passionflower and even oats. Lemon and liquorice go together, so you could add anise, star aniseed, fenugreek or fennel. Yes, lemon balm is just so versatile.

To make your customised version you can either up the amount of lemon balm leaf first or just leave it at one heaped teaspoon, and then add a teaspoon of the other herbs of your choice, so basically so have equal parts of each herb.

Culinary Uses

Since it is obvious that ‘lemon balm’ has a ‘lemon taste’, it can be very useful in the kitchen, and lemon can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. So lemon balm can be good in meat dishes such as, chicken, lamb, pork, and seafood such as fish. Plus, a whole range of vegetables, from corn, beans and carrots to broccoli. Then you can add it to soups and stews, add the fresh leaf to salads, to soft cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese, finely chopped leaves to jellies, marmalades, cakes with fruit, and lemon flavoured desserts, even yoghurt, milk kefir and over ice cream.

Another thing to remember about lemon balm is that it is also called ‘Sweet balm’, meaning that it does tend to sweeten, so adding it to recipes can reduce the amount of sugar or other sweeteners, and help with sourness. An example of this could be to add finely chopped fresh lemon balm leaves to sourdough bread in its final stage.

Health Uses of Lemon Balm

Most people are like me, ‘I don’t do exams’, so when I have a test of some form about to begin, I would make up a lemon balm tea. And I am convinced it works, and drinking lots of cuppas throughout the day, generally will keep you calm, throughout the day.

Since the tea is so healthful, helpful and calming it can be used on a larger scale too. You can make a larger amount of herbal tea and this can be poured into a bath to absorb its calming affects through the skin and the nose, or used in a foot bath to sooth tired and aching feet.

To prepare a lemon balm bath:

  • Put about 300 grams of fresh lemon balm into a bowl (About a good handful.)
  • Bring to boil 375ml / 2 1/2 cups of water
  • Pour in the boiling water in the bowl
  • Allow to steep for ten minutes
  • Strain and pour into your bath water
  • And relaaaaxxxxxx

When considering the idea of a foot bath or using a bathtub as just mentioned, lemon balm has real antimicrobial properties, as it is antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral and a insectifuge, therefore, a good soaking in the tea has benefits of topically relieving shingles, cold sores, infected cuts, and abrasions, boils, cystic acne, removing lice, soothing insect bites, and sunspots and due to its tannin content may help to stop bleeding. These conditions can also be greatly assisted by using compresses, which is the same as a fomentation.

Lemon balm is a very safe herb for anyone to use. Many women suffer from morning sickness when pregnant, and to assist her, she should make a simple lemon balm tea with some raw honey and slowly sipping it first thing when she gets up in the morning. Lemon balm tea is also good for calming your baby too, just add a little to their food or drink, just don’t use at full strength.

To remove bad breath, just eat a little sprig of the plant before heading out to socialise.

And finally you can make a sleep pillow from the leaves and stems.

Oil of Lemon Balm

Oil of lemon balm has the same properties as the rest of the plant, so it can be used in a similar fashion as the leaf, it is quite helpful during stressful situations, and can help with anxiety and mild depression. But I wouldn’t try to treat severe depression alone with it, as there may be other underlying causes to the severe depression.

To bypass the making of a tea for a bath or foot bath, you can place 10 to 20 drops of lemon balm oil into the water.

Potpourri

Lemon balm is used in potpourri, and a potpourri that is supposed to encourage ‘sweet dreams’ is an equal mix of spearmint and peppermint leaves, rosemary, lemon balm leaves, honesty (Lunaria annua), and Christmas roses (Helleborus niger), which is poisonous, so don’t eat it.

Gardening Uses of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm can be added to borders and other garden edges, in between pavers and rocks, especially where you may walk past and brush up against it and stir up a fragrance. (Mint also works like this.) Golden lemon balm and Variegata can add real colour to your garden.

Some farmers that are into organic framing of their cows actually grow lemon balm in the field for them to eat and to encourage milk production. For post-natal care, of their cows they also add sweet marjoram to the lemon balm to help strengthen them. The Arabs also believed that lemon balm made their animals more intelligent, this was probably caused by calming the animal, helping it to be less flighty and allow it to think and learn.

Lemon Balm is a good companion plant, as it seems that nobody isn’t a good companion to lemon balm. For the brassica family, such as, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, and tomatoes, onions, melons and squash. Fruits such as, apples and kiwi, plus, it can go with other herbs such as, nasturtiums, lavender, parsley, chives, basil rosemary and sage, angelica, chamomile, echinacea and hollyhocks. Amazingly, it even goes with Fennel!

Its aroma helps to hide the scent of other plants from insect attack. And as mentioned earlier, it is excellent at attracting bees and butterflies, therefore, it can help the whole garden with pollination, thereby gain a better and productive crop.


How to Grow Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a branching perennial that can just about grow anywhere, but prefers a rich and moist, but well-drained soil and grows to about 60cm / 2′. It also prefers a neutral pH, but the soil can be somewhat either way. If you are in very cold climates, the above ground will die back but the roots are perennial.

Some good points about Lemon balm are that although it is part of the same family as mint, its roots are not as invasive and it tends to grow in clumps. It is a great companion in the garden attracting bees, and its flower is a white to cream two-lipped flower that form in clusters. The flowers don’t seem to do so well or form in the tropical to sub-tropical regions.


There are three main variations: (I have found much confusion on the Internet in regards to these cultivars! So here I make my stand.)

  • All Gold or Golden Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis ‘aurea’ , which has a selection with ‘yellow leaves‘, which prefers more shade
  • Variegata – Melissa officinalis ‘variegata’, has dark green leaves with golden yellow markings, which don’t put on their colours very well in subtropical regions
  • Lime – Melissa officinalis ‘lime’, is very similar to the Melissa officinalis, but with a distinctive lime aroma and mild flavour.

You can propagate lemon balm in four different ways, by seed, cuttings, root division, and by layering, all are relatively simple to do. Lemon balm does prefer a loose soil structure, rich and moist soil but complains after a while if its too dry. It likes to be fertilised every now and again, especially if you want a bigger healthier looking plant with large leaves. It can grow in the sun or shade, but I feel it does better with part sun and shade, as a lot of sun seems to create smaller leaves and a lighter green and sometimes it may begin to wilt in high heat.

From Seed

If you are starting from seed, remember that they don’t like frost, so if you live in a cold climate then start the process indoors.

  • Simply prepare a container or pot with good seed raising mix
  • The seed is small, so take some care when dispensing it out
  • Sprinkle the seed over the seed raising mix, but not too crowded
  • Just lightly rub your hand over the mix to gently work them in
  • Give the container a gentle misting enough to moisten the mix
  • Don’t wet the mix, as they don’t like being real wet
  • Typically the seeds will germinate in about 10 to 14 days, but may take longer
  • When they have about four leaves, you can use a screwdriver to prise them out
  • Then make a new hole either in the ground or a larger pot with the screwdriver
  • Then use the screwdriver to push the roots down into the soil
  • Press it in and lightly water in
  • P.S. you don’t specifically need a screwdriver, but something similar will do

From Cuttings

Cut out softwood lemon balm cuttings from the new growth from the early spring to summer. Remove any leaves at the bottom end by at least 4.5cm / 1- 3/4″. It may help to dip the ends of the cuttings into a root hormone compound, or honey will often work and even cinnamon will work sometimes. Poke a hole with a stick into the soil or potting mix, place the cutting into the hole, press around the cutting and lightly water in.

From Division

When the plant is growing successfully during its growing season, you can separate the root divisions and replant them with a little water.

From Layering

The plant as it spreads and the branches touch the ground naturally, it will make new roots on is own; these parts can be cut off and planted into a new pot. Water in and take care of it until it is established. This process can be done intentionally, but just make sure that you put the nodes just into the ground and peg down until the roots start to grow.

Maintenance

Lemon balm doesn’t seem to get any real issues if well maintained and cared for. But two things which may attack it are fungal diseases, such as verticillium wilt, powdery mildew and one that is similar to mint rust, and the other is scale, which I have seen growing on it, but the plant was a sick specimen. If you get any of the fungi, first make sure that the plants have plenty of space (at least 30cm / 1′ apart) and good ventilation, or spray the plants with a compost tea, which is a natural fungicide. If it is too bad, then cut back the plant and remove all material and dump it, and for scale all you need to do is hose it off with a jet of water.

Fertiliser

Many often suggest that you don’t need to fertilise lemon balm, and when planting, just throw in some compost, and you’ll be right. But I have found that it doesn’t hurt one bit to apply a small amount of good liquid or pelletised fertiliser every few months, therefore, I completely recommend it.


Collecting

The best time to harvest your lemon balm for ‘medicinal’ use is just before it goes into flower, as the energy is still in the leaf, and not moving to the flower or seed. For the best therapeutic value, use the fresh over the dried, but both will work. Otherwise you can even gather the flowers to use in your tea.

Collecting is easy, in the morning and once the dew has dried off the leaves, pick or trim off the ‘soft’ aerial parts of the plant, and this can include the stem if they are soft too, as all the aerial parts of the plant are useful. If you are making an infusion or decoction, you can chuck in the more harder and stiff bits, but I would advise finely chopping them. If you are just making a tea, then a few drops of dew are not a problem, and you can pick them first thing in the morning.

Drying

Drying must be done as soon as possible and don’t apply any real heat, otherwise the leaves will turn black. Place them on dry paper towelling or dry kitchen towels, that are in a well ventilated and airy room, and once dry and crispy they are ready for storage.

Storage

You can store the herb in two main ways, one is to put the fresh soft aerial parts into freezer bags and store in the freezer, or two, thoroughly dry them and store them in air-tight glass bottles out of sunlight (You can powderise the dry leaves for storage as well). Either way they should last at least 6 months.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Balm, Bee balm, Sweet balm, Melissa, Cure-all, Balm mint, Dropsy plant, Blue balm, Garden balm, Heart’s delight, Melissa, Common balm, English balm, Honey plant, Lemon Melissa, Mountain balm, and Sweet Mary

Parts used:

Aerial Parts

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, mild sedative, diaphoretic, TSH antagonist, antiviral – topically, tonic, appetiser, antidepressant, digestive, antihistamine, fungicidal, emmenagogue, stomachic, antioxidant, antibacterial, nervine, febrifuge, antiseptic, anticonvulsant and insectifuge

Indications:

Insomnia, anxiety, irritability, depression, infantile colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, nervous dyspepsia, herpes – topically; hypothyroidism, migraine, stomach cramps, gout and urinary tract infection. Plus, fever, common cold, influenza, irritable bowel syndrome, promotes the onset of menstruation, and reduces painful menstruation and gout

Constituents:

Essential oil – citronellol, citronellal and citral, germinal, geraniol, linalool, tannins, bitters, resin, succinct acid, phenolic acids, flavonoids and terpenes 

Safety concerns:

Nothing major known, although use caution with hypothyroidism

Adulterants:

Adulteration has been with Nepeta cataria var. citriodora



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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Always be careful touching the truth, it may change you —Herbal Panda

Little Miss Anise, yes the dainty lass and did you see her lacy parasol, just beautiful?

Little Miss Anise, “where are you going with that pretty unbrella, to a wedding?”, they asked. “No, I am not,” she said, and thanked them kindly, “a smart girl is always ready for any occassion” as she continued strolling along with out missing a step. This wisdom must have been shared with many of her family, the Apiaceae Family, why, you ask, because so many of her siblings seem to have the same idea, such as Miss Fennel, the counrty girl Miss Cow Parsley, the classy Miss Chervil, Miss Dill, and her brothers, Mr Carrot and Mr Celery.

Anise or as some say Aniseed – Pimpinella anisum, appears to have originated from West Asia and has been cultivated and used in the Egypt since ancient times (used in breads) and middle eastern regions, plus the Greece, Syria and Turkey and was introduced to Europe from the Romans, who used it in a type of cake after meals, because it helps with digestion, (I hope they declared it at the border) and the Americas received it from the early settlers, and since these times it has spread around the world. Spain, France and Russia are major producers of anise these days.

Speaking of Russia, Anise was one of the first herbs ever to be accepted by Russian herbalists. During the 19th century a Landlord began cultivating it in the province of Voronez and since then it is largely grown in the Caucasus and the Ukraine. It is one of the most popular ingregdients in over-the-counter remedies.

King Edward the First, had anise used to pay the custom tax ‘luxuries’ for the repairing of London bridge during the 14th century.


Miss Anise being ready for every social occassion is why she along with many of her siblings, end up at the social and entertainment table, with sweets and candy, drinks and beverages, buns and breads and excellent dishes and can be mixed with cumin and fennel.

This is due to her wonderful ‘liquorice-like’ flavour and aromaaassss.

Miss Anise is a great compliment to many a refreshing and healthy drink, for example: she can be mixed with coffee, chocolate and carob beverages, and makes great liquorice-flavoured tea combinations with such herbs as dandelion, and ginger. She is great in baked sweet pies containing mince fruit, plus various pastries, cakes, buns and breads – raised or flat such as, Pan Chuta – a Peruvian flat bread, muffins and biscuits/cookies, and due to its lollie-like flavour, can be used in after dinner dessert drinks. Plus soups, sauces, creams, and relishes.

Some other uses apart from medicinal, are potpourris, insecticides, antibacterial and fungicide, and aromatherapy. Some of these uses are in the essential oil form, and pure essential oils should not be ingested. An infused anise oil can be made from the seed too.

Anise can be confused with other members of her family and fennel is the main one due to being such alike, ‘look-a-like fraternal twins’, and so many others looking very similar.

Another herb and cooking favourite is “Star anise” this girl is a real foodie and looks nothing like Miss Anise, yet people will mix them up, due to having a similar flavour and their common names.

One character that you should never ever mix Star anise or Chinese star anise Illicium verum with is Japanese Star anise Illiicum anisatum or I. japonicum, as nice and kind as the Japanese people are, this plant is highly toxic and must be avoided.


How to use Anise

Herbal Teas

To make a simple Anise herbal tea, just throw in 1 teaspsoon of anise seed into a cup or mug. Pour in boiling hot water and cover for 5 to 10 minutes, after the steeping time, if needed you can add your favourite sweetner such as raw honey, stevia, erythritol, and enjoy. Yes it really is that simple.

My Anise Tea that I decided to make whilst writing this very Blog

If you want to Jazz it up a bit, you can mix anise seed with many other herbs to add more therapeutic affects or frankly just to add flavour, an example of this is dandelion root.

Here you would add 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1 teaspoon of dandelion root, pour in the boiling hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, add your sweetener and enjoy. If you want extra ‘potency’, break or crush the seed a little with a mortar and pestle. And if you have issues such as seeds wanting to float in you cup of herbal tea then you can either strain out the seeds or use an infuser.

Culinary Uses

The leaves and soft stems of anise can be added to salads and mixed with vegetables when being cooked as they too are aromatic, or finely chopped and cooked into baked goods and pastries. Frankly the seeds and oils suitable for cooking can be used anywhere you want to add the anise/liquorice flavour.

Simple Anise Leaf Wafers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoons of crushed anise
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped anise leaves
  • 60 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Boiling water

Process

  • Place the chopped leaves into 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water and cover
  • Allow to steep for 10 minutes and chill
  • Rub the butter into the cup of flour, until looking like breadcrumbs
  • Add the wet ingredients
  • Make into a dough
  • Roll into balls and flatten out on a greased baking tray
  • Bake in a hot oven that has been ‘preheated’ for 10 – 12 minutes
  • Or until the edges are slightly browning
  • Cool and enjoy

Soaps

Due to its aromatic freshness and anti-microbial actions, anise can be used in soaps, creams and ointments and lotions. For example a ointment can be rubbed on the chest to help relieve chest discomfort from a cough, or a syrup can be made to ease chest congestion as well.

For Potpourri

The leaf and stem may be of good use as well as cracked seed or powder, depending on what you waht to do, as they all are aromatic.

Anise for Bad Breath

Simply chew on a few seeds , before meeting your loved one, EASY! And cheaper than those sugar or chemical filled breath poisoners, oops, I mean fresheners.

Anise for Lactation

Traditionally anise has been used to improve breastfeeding for mothers, so it can often be found in nurse maid teas. With breastfeeding, it is best to have a selection of several different herbs working in a few different ways:

Oxytocics

These are herbs that help the mother directly to produce milk: some herbs are fenugreek, goat’s rue and blessed thistle.

Digestives

These support the mother’s digestive system, calming and assiting her body to digest and obtain nutrients and to help baby too, some of these are: Fennel, anise, caraway, hops, and milk thistle

Nutritives

These herbs help simply to obtain nutrients, and improving the mothers health and well being, that’s why it’s called ‘Nutrition’, along with reasonable vitamins and minerals helps her baby as well via the breast milk.

Nervines

These primarily are to calm and relax her, the more happy she is and content the more her natural hormone oxytocin goes up and this should improve her milk supply. ‘A frazzled mum don’t milk to well’. These herbs are lemon balm hops and oats, plus if you wish you can add some rose, lavender or chamomile.

Once the milk supply is confirmed by a qualified lactatition consultant then there really is no more need to continue the herbs and this may take a few weeks. If you wish to continue taking these herbs in a tea, I would advise just lowering the amount per day.

Please understand that there are many issues in regards to poor breastfeeding, so it is best not to self treat, and find a caring, supportive, qualified lactation consultant, who takes the time to explain things, answer your questions and care about you.

Anise Oils

Anise Essential oil can be applied in the use of aromatherapy, and can also be used topically to help assist against skin infections, because it has anti-microbial actions, and is toxic to insects, therefore it can help to remove scabies, fleas or lice (nits) in the hair by placing and combing a little evenly throughout the hair and can be used to inhibit growth of fungus. Don’t use pure essential oils on babies and infants only and use inconjunction with a carrrier oil, for example olive oil, to dilute the concentration.

Infused Anise oil (not an essential oil)

Ingredients

  • Anise seeds (dried and approximately a handful)
  • A carrier oil – Almond oil or coconut or olive oil or similar

Equipment

  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Loosely woven cloth or cheese cloth
  • Glass container
  • Sticky label and pen

Process

  • Break up and bruise the Anise seeds, but don’t powderised
  • Place into a glass jar or bottle
  • Pour in the carrier oil, enough to thourougly cover the seeds
  • Seal on the lid and placed in the sunlight
  • Leave in the sunlight for at least 4 weeks, or a minimum of 2 weeks
  • Shake up the bottle once a day
  • After 4 weeks strain into another glass container through the cloth
  • Place the lid back on, and label with contents and date

You can speed up this process by following the same process as mentioned how to make Lavender oil in the lavender post.


Gardening uses

Anise is supposed to make a great companion plant to coriander, as it is said that coriander helps to speed anise’s germination and growth, and they assist the seed formation of each other. Anise attracts predatory wasps and helps to repel aphids. But its not a good idea to grow it with basil, rue and carrots.

How to grow Anise

Anise is an annual that grows to approximately between 45cm to 90cm or 18″ to 3′ that becomes a natural source of phosphorus and aids digestion. It should be noted that anise can be slow to germinate, depending on conditions, but I believe that it should be only 2 weeks. Sow after the last frost, when in colder climates, and when placing it out in the garden, give it a warm and sunny position, out of the wind, with well drained soil around 6.0 pH, and the best seasons to plant in are spring and summer. When young, it does prefer regular watering especially if it’s getting a dry, once established it can handle some dryness.

Plant the seed 6mm to 12mm 1/4″ to 1/2″ into seedling containers or into garden seed drills and cover over gently and water in and keep the soil slightly moist. If planting into seed drills, plant about one every 2.5 cm or 1 “. Water regularly 2 times a week until they are about 18cm high, then reduce watering.

A simple ready to sow packet of Anise seeds in my hands

If planting from seedlings from the nursery, be gentle with them as they are soft and fragile.

Maintenance

Pests and diseases

Some possible pests are: larvae from the Lepidoptera species, that is, butterflies and moths, for example, the lime-speck pug and the wormwood pug


Collecting

During late summer and into autumn collect from your garden or from the wild if it grows near you, (always carefully identify all herbs from the wild), once the first ‘Umbels’ appear, this is the beautiful array of tiny flowers that spread out like an umbrella.

Technically, an Umbel is the ‘infloresence’ from which the flower stalks arise from one point.

Drying

You can dry the seeds by tying them up together in small bunches upside down inside paper bags in an open space with plenty of fresh air to stay dry, for example, a well ventilated room or covered area

Once the seed is dry, you can store them in a cool, dry and dark place and will keep sealed in a glass container for up to 3 years, but if you grind it to powder, it will shorten its potency life, but the flavour should still be there.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Seeds, but can use leaves and soft stems in cooking etc

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 3.5 – 7.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Expectorant, oestrogen modulating, galactagogue, spasmolytic, carminative, and antimicrobial

INDICATIONS:

Intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile colic, dyspepsia, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, tracheitis, gastrointestinal candidiasis, parasites, modify bowel flora, and hot flashes. Plus, Difficult lactation and pertussis, spasmodic cough, bronchial catarrh, scabies and pediculosis

CONSTITUENTS:

Essential oils, fixed oil, flavonoids, phenylpropenyl esters

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD), do not consume in large doses, and do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.

ADULTERANTS:

Not very common



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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With this selection of blogs, I want to give attention to culinary herbs that you can grow for you and your family, that have great health benefits and can grow in a small area such as a patio, veranda, carport or landing for an apartment. I addressed parsley last time, and this week I have chosen chives, (Allium schoenoprasum). Mine are presently out in flower, sadly not as full as they could be, but, I thought I would choose this one anyway. Because there real and I don’t have to find someone else’s photo.

My little pot of Chives, of which I keep eating from, otherwise it would be much bigger

Chives are probably one of the most commonly known culinary herbs and when used in cooking they are used principally used to add onion flavour, but without the stronger onion intensity or in some cases repeating. I also add chives into my cooking because it is another way of sneaking in greens without great effort, plus nutrition, as most, if not all herbs are typically higher in vitamins and minerals than larger fruits and vegetables. They are nutritional power packs, allowing us to physically eat less yet get more.

Chives is a native to continental Europe and including Britain, but now grows world wide in any regions tha are ranging from temperate to hot, and regions that get very cold it is best to bring it inside out of the cold, although they are usually frost-hardy.

Back in the middle ages, it was called the rush leek, from the Greek word schoinos – rush and prason – leek.


Culinary uses for Chives

Such a simple herb, so why not grow them? They really take very little space and care and last years, producing free food and flavour for very little effort, and have a beautiful mauve colour in a cute ball shape. Therefore, they can make an interesting addition, both for colour and shape to a garden. Pests generally don’t like them due to their sulphur content, yet bees love them, sounds like a win-win to me.

From a culinary point of view they make great additions and can be used in many recipes. I often use them in mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, plus omelettes and other egg dishes or just in plain ole scrambled eggs in the morning. In the morning, I just wander out into my carport grab a selection of herbs, parsley and chives are often the main choices, bring them into the kitchen, finely chop them and lightly cook them just before I throw in the scrambled eggs, and voila, a yummy breakfast, better than any dry cereal I my book, and can fit into many diets, from Vegan to Keto.

Eggs and Chives, just wonderful

Chives can be added to salads to add a little zest or bite, mixed into egg sandwiches, sprinkled onto soups and casseroles for colour, aroma and flavour. I have chopped up some freshly picked chives and added it into homemade ricotta cheese. The flowers can be eaten raw and fresh, put into salads or you can place the petals in a butter or a vinegar. The unopened flowers are used at times in asian cooking.

Chive Butter

Ingredients

  • 100grams or 4 oz of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Celtic or Himilayan salt for taste
  • A pinch of pepper

Process

  • Soften the butter enough to allow easy blending of the chives
  • Evenly mix in the chives and butter together
  • Beat in the lemon juice
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Place and cool down in the fridge
  • When cool but still soft enugh to spread it is ready for use
  • Should last 3 – 4 days in the fridge

Storage

Chives don’t store really well, and if you are storing them in a bottle they will need to to dried, but won’t keep for a long time. But they do keep in the freezer all chopped up in plastic bags for about six months.


The Herb Files

The most common mistake with chives is that it gets mixed up with another chives, what?! There are specifically two plants often called chives, they are similar in some ways, but they are still reasonably different. They are Garlic chives and Onion chives, both get called chives, but they are different. Onion chives have a round tubular stem that is hollow, with a pale purple flower, although one species does have a white flower, whereas garlic chives has a flat blade like stem, with fragrant white flowers. The leaves for both are used in cooking, but the bulb of garlic chives is not edible. The main difference when used in cooking is that onion chives give a ‘onion flavour’ and ‘garlic chives’ gives a garlic flavour, amazing isn’t it! But for thos who want a gentle garlic flavour instead of garlic itself, then you can use garlic chives.

Beauty in a bundle

Gardening with Chives

Apart from the obvious culinary uses, chives can make an excellent decorative or ornamental border around flowering and vegetable gardens, placed in rockeries, gaps in rock walls and in or on ledges and edges. As they grow to 15 to 30 cm/6″ to 9″ high and in clumps that are approximately 15cm/ 6 ” wide with their flowers being a beautiful long-lasting pale purple or lilac. When planting in garden beds etc., plant with plenty of blood and bone or good seaweed fertilisers, plus itis a good idea to mulch around the plant to keep it weed free. Chives has very little pest and disease problems, but does have occassional attcks from aphids. Use a natural spray or if you are careful you can hose them off.

Simple Garden Edging

Companion Planting

If your into companion planting you can plant chives along side roses tomatoes, carrots and grapes as well as fruit trees.

How to grow it

Chives like a well-draining soil that is light but slightly moist, but during hotter months thya may want extra watering. They can grow in full sun but don’t mind just a little shade at times.

The easiest way to get started is during spring is to ask a friendly gardening neighbour if they have any chives, and if they do, ask them if you can have some by dividing a small sample off the original clump. Simply plant this into a pot about 20cm or 8″, water it in and just wait a couple of weeks before attempting to start harvesting. Yes, they really are tough plants to learn on.

Although not organic, at least they are cheaper in this world of ‘everything costs heaps’.

To grow from seed, and you have hot summers, only plant from autumn to spring, but if you have a more milder summer, then you can plant from spring to autumn.

To plant your seeds, prepare a container such as a tray, window box or pot with good vegetable potting mix, then push a few holes about 6mm or 1/4″ into the mix with your finger and about 15cm or 6″ apart, (as you won’t need many plants anyway, and four is heaps for a family, unless you are going to sell or trade them) and drop a couple of seeds into each hole. Once you have done that, simply cover them over, and gently water the mix. Keep the mix slightly moist, and all going good, they should be popping out of the ground in about 2 – 3 weeks, unless it quite cold there. Thin out if you have too many. Harvest the leaves close to the ground as you need them, and to keep them fresh or grow more if you intend to dry or freeze them for later use.

Some tips

If you have rather cold winters, bring your pot of chives inside to take care of it. Also, it is a good thing to divide your bunch of chives about every two years.

Tech stuff

From a more technical perspective, 50 grams has approximately 40% of your daily needs of vitamin A, and just under 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C. Plus, more than your daily needs of vitamin K, and over 10% of folate. It also has other vitamins such as: Thiamin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.

It has minerals such as, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Plus, good ole dietary fibre, yeah!


Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au