The Sweet Life Gardener Lemon Grass

By Alisa Murray

By Alisa Murray

Hey Sweet Lifers! Hope y’all are digging in and prepping those beds for some Fall harvesting. I have prepped and added nutrients to all of my beds and will start sprinkling some seeds over the next few weeks for radishes, beets, carrots and collards.

One of my favorites to grow and use in the garden is lemon grass. I think what made me fall in love with lemon grass was how wonderful it tastes with pork. What’s more, it makes it through our winters and survives our hot summers, so mine is actually three-years-old!

Lemon grass is native to Southeastern Asia and has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes since the 17th century. India is now the current largest exporter of lemon grass worldwide.

Lemon grass is a member of the Poaceae family, and it grows like a tall grass. At its largest, it can get to be 6’ tall and spread to 4’ wide. Mine, I have kept a check on so that it does not “take over” the space I have planned for it.

The medicinal uses of lemon grass are mainly gastro-intestinal. Treating ailments such as stomach issues, gas and bloating, even assisting with fevers and of course, inflammation. The leaves can be boiled for a tea. If using as a tea, it is an effective antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant option. Adding in a bit of squeezed lemon or lime and a spoonful of sugar is especially nice.

The culinary uses for lemon grass are what got me to growing it in my own garden. I love Thai food, and it is a staple ingredient in many of those dishes. It has a citrus flavor that is different from lemons and other citrus fruit. I like it with pork and chicken, and it does very well in stir fry’s, soups and sauces.

The most coveted aspect of lemon grass, aside from its culinary uses, is its oil. The essential oil of lemon grass is very high in potency and has been used for flavoring beverages to enhancing perfumes and cosmetics. To get the extract simply squeeze the leaves. I find it a great add on to my candle and soap making for gifts.

No matter what use you may find for lemon grass, the most basic and elegant of all is it stands out in the garden landscape and makes a lovely filler around vegetables. Because of its potent aroma, it also attracts and wards off pests and friends in the garden making it a perfect plant to grow!

Keep on growing and stay “sweet!”