Balm ‘Lime’

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Lime balm is a perennial herb that shares many characteristics with its cousin lemon balm. It is as easy to grow but has a distinct limey fragrance. Lime balm is a half-hardy perennial that can add the aroma of lime to your dishes without the citrus. When planted in the garden likes dappled light and moist, fertile soil. Like its cousin, mint, lime balm can be invasive, so contain it with a border, or keep it in a pot. It grows to a height of about 18 inches and will cover anything in its path if you give it a spot it likes. It will return year after year without much encouragement and does well in zones five through nine. Keep it moist through the hot summer months, and give it a layer of insulating mulch in areas that experience triple digit highs. Keep lime balm in a sunny spot when keeping indoors, and don’t let it go dry. Use a good quality potting soil, and use a small pot. Potted lime balm does better when kept crowded. You can dry lime balm by tying it in loose bunches with a rubber band and hanging it upside down in a warm room. You can dry it in a warm oven too. Try a small batch first and check for scorching. The dried leaves should be stored whole in an airtight container away from the light. Lime balm can be used in cooking, potpourri and crafts. It’s tasty in a fruit salad, as an ingredient in marinades, and as a seasoning for fish, chicken or pork. Lime balm tea helps relieve tension, and the dried leaves can be used topically to treat bee stings. A great way to use lime balm, is as a garnish for TexMex dishes. If I don’t have a lime in the house, lime balm helps create that distinctive limey blending of ingredients, (red pepper, cumin, onion, garlic, and lime) even if I cheated and used lemon instead. Add an unexpected fragrance to your herb garden with lime balm. It will reward you with distinctive fragrance from spring to fall.

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