I was down the market the other day and saw that they had lemongrass for sale – 3 stalks for $5.00!
Honestly, if you don’t know how to grow lemongrass you would think at that price that Lemongrass was a precious, hard to grow herb. In reality, growing Lemongrass is easy!
You can grow lemongrass from seed or seedling. It can even grow it by buying one of those stalks and allowing it to take root in a glass of water!
Lemongrass is not fussy about soil, water, fertiliser. In fact, it’s not fussy about much. I even had a clump growing in a crack in a concrete driveway!
Actually, I would say there are more “Do Nots” when it comes to growing lemongrass!
My list of “Do Not’s” when growing lemongrass include:
1. Don’t plant it directly in the garden, unless you have a massive yard or a corner where absolutely nothing with grow! Always keep it contained in a pot.
2. Do Not plant it in a small pot. I would recommend a fairly large pot as the plant can be large when established so can look top heavy or even break a smaller pot.
3. Do Not plant it in a mixed pot with other herbs. It will smother the other herbs.
4. Do Not let it get out of control! Prune it regularly, and hard. It responds well to being controlled.
5. Do Not let it go to “flower”! Its flowers are more like a fluffy fringe similar to most grass flowers. If you let it go to seed, the wind and birds will disperse the seed and you and your neighbours will have it everywhere. In fact, lemongrass has become an environmental weed in many parts of Queensland.
6. Do Not fertilise it. The more you fertilise, the larger the clump will grow and the more flower spikes it will send up!
7. Do Not ignore little seedlings that pop up in your garden. These seedling are not cute, as they grow into massive clumps!
So Why Grow Lemongrass?
Well, it is fabulous in curries, stir fry’s, laksa and many Thai and Asian-based soups. And it makes a really refreshing tea!
If you do use it in cooking, then its better to grow it than pay $5 for a small bunch!
To use lemongrass if you are growing it, just go to the base of the plant, find a thick stalk and twist to break it away from the mother plant. It should come away fairly easily. Be careful with the leaves as they are razor-sharp on the edges. Cut the top of the stalk off, leaving about 20-30cm.
Trim the base, peel off the outer layers until you reach the softer whitish centre. This can then be sliced into thin rings, pounded with a rolling pin or crushed in a mortar and pestle.
If you are buying a stalk, choose stalks that feel heavy. Otherwise, it may have been picked too long and allowed to dry out, leaving it less tasty and woodier in texture.
Lemongrass adds a lovely mild citrusy flavour to many Asian recipes, but I find that the woody texture is an acquired taste. It’s better to cut the stalk into 6 cm pieces and just bruise it with a mallet to release the oils.
I then add the bruised lemongrass pieces to the soup or curry early in the cooking process, and remove the stalks before serving. If I want to add it to a stir-fry, I slice it into thin rings and bash it in a mortar and pestle.
It also makes a refreshing tea. Just add the bruised stalks to a pot or teacup, cover with boiling water and let it infuse. Remove the stalks and drink the tea.
Alternatively, use lemongrass to add a lovely citrus flavour to a bottle of vodka for cocktails. Just peel and bruise a lemongrass stalk, put it in a nearly full bottle of vodka, allow to steep for 3-4 days, shaking occasionally and remove the stalks.
Like many herbs and spices, it is high in vitamins including vitamins A, C and traces of B group vitamins. It is also high in minerals including magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus and manganese. The human body needs the vitamins and minerals to function effectively.
Lemongrass has an extensive history of use in Asian countries for its medicinal properties including its anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and it is reported to reduce the symptoms associated with colds and flu’s.
It has been called fever grass for its ability to reduce raised body temperatures and is also said to be good for arthritis and joint pain, lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and delaying age-related chronic diseases!
So why not grow some lemongrass today?
Rohanne, Your Personal Garden Expert