Harvesting Lemongrass for Health Benefits Harvesting Lemongrass for Health Benefits
Lemongrass is an herb commonly used in Asian cooking and it can also be grown in your garden for healthy cooking purposes. Lemongrass has a tangy lemon taste to it and retains its flavor well when used in cooking. When it comes to health benefits, lemongrass detoxifies the digestive system, reduces blood pressure, and relieves stress. Lemongrass also has anti-oxidants which help in preventing certain cancers from forming. As a scent, it has long been used in aroma therapy in candles and as an essential oil.
Lemongrass plants can be purchased from your local nursery if they are available. They can also be purchased in the grocery store if the roots are included with the grassy plant. For those lemongrass plants purchased from the nursery, they can be planted in a sunny area of your garden. The roots of the grocery store bought lemongrass will require some development before they can be planted. The best way to do this is to stick the lemongrass in a glass or vase of water and allow the roots to grow for two weeks. Once the roots develop, the lemongrass can be planted outside. The herb can also be grown inside in a pot if you have a sunny room for your indoor plants.
Preparing Soil for Lemongrass
The soil should be very rich so you will want to add manure and compost, mixing it in well with the garden soil. Turn over the soil well so that it is well drained. You do not have to add fertilizer to the soil before planting lemongrass. Plant each lemongrass plant and cover the root by gently packing down the soil around each plant.
Caring for Lemongrass
Fertilize your lemongrass plants every 2 weeks during the spring and summer seasons. A time-released fertilizer is best but other vegetable fertilizers will also work well on lemongrass. Water the plants once a week, but avoid overwatering them, especially during the rainy seasons. Lemongrass likes dry soil in between watering periods. Lemongrass can be grown outdoors in planting zones 3 to 7 but will die over the winter season unless you bring them indoors.
Cut lemongrass blades when they are 12 inches tall. Do not cut down at the base but leave 1 inch so the lemongrass will re-grow. If you are using fresh lemongrass to cook with, chop it up finely after washing thoroughly. The fresh herb can be difficult to chew if they are cut into large chunks. Use the amount called for in the recipe you are making when cooking with lemongrass.
Lemongrass can also be dried, just like other herbs. After cutting the blades of the herb, wash them well and lay them out to dry on paper towels. Allow the lemongrass to dry, and turn over the blades and replace the old paper towels with new ones. The blades should be completely dried in a week's time. Once the lemongrass is completely dried, it can be crumbled up and stored in an airtight herb jar. Label the jar, and you can use the dried lemongrass for cooking with.