Giving Lemon Balm a haircut

There’s no doubt in my mind that lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a weed very successful plant.

Being a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), means it spreads by underground runners and can eventually cover large areas. It also self-seeds quite well and that’s how most of mine has spread to different places.

It has its good points, though. Listed in permaculture circles as a dynamic accumulator, it can be cut regularly and used as a nutrient-rich mulch on garden beds (preferably without seed heads). It’s dormant through the winter and grows again in spring. It’s rocketing away at the moment:

That’s a comfrey plant in the centre, struggling to get its leaves into the light.

I continually cut back the lemon balm through the spring & summer and either put it through the mulcher for mulch or compost, throw it straight into the compost, or just leave it lying on the ground in the food forest to break down there. I use hedge clippers. No noisy, fossil fuel burning whippersnippers will ever be used on this property! Hello comfrey!:

I’m using the chopped stems to build up the extension to my new hugelkultur bed:

I’ll always leave some to flower because it’s very attractive to bees. New seedlings coming up where I don’t want them can always be pulled out and unwanted established clumps can be sheet-mulched out of existence. It’s too valuable to not have in the garden.

Oh, and it makes a nice cup of herbal tea, too!

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2 Responses to “Giving Lemon Balm a haircut”

  1. Frogdancer Says:

    The lemon balm you gave me is leaping out of the wicking box. It looked very sad over winter but now it’s (scarily) vigorous.

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  2. narf77 Says:

    Plus it grows like weeds everywhere. Here in Tasmania it goes nuts and as someone who is shuddering thinking about all of the bare earth that she has just left after a most determined hack and slash effort over the autumn and winter, I am dreading summers hot dry conditions and lemon balm can cover bare soil in a very short time. I am contemplating using it along with nasturtiums in the dry garden that we reclaimed from vinca not so long ago. I may be able to get Steve to eat vegan food without complaining…I may be able to get Steve to chop wood en masse with a block splitter…I may even be able to talk Steve into allowing us to keep a most fertile rooster who is hell bent on taking over Serendipity Farm singlehandedly with his offspring BUT I can not take away his whipper snipper…it’s one of those “them or me” times when its wise to allow someone to cling tenaciously to their preciouses… šŸ˜‰

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