As the name suggests, West Indian Lemon grass is a citrus-flavored grass from Southeast Asia. This annual grass is grown as an ornamental, an edible and a medicinal. Its flavor is attributed to a chemical called citral. Lemon grass is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking to flavor soups and other dishes. It is also a constituent of many herbal teas, either alone or in combination with other herbs. Lemon grass is considered a stomach settler and a digestive stimulant, an anti-inflammatory and a vasodilator. It is probably most widely used to relax and revitalize the mind. It relives fatigue and an aching body. Additionally, it has reported antifungal and antimicrobial properties. The essential oil is also sold as an alternative to the tea to be used for the same purposes. The oil is also used for aromatherapy.
Growing Information: Despite being a grass, lemon grass seeds can be tricky to germinate. Seeds should be started indoors or in a greenhouse during the winter to early spring and transplanted outside once the weather is warm. Sow your seeds in good compost, covering them with just a thin layer of soil. Much of your success will be based on soil moisture. If your soil is too moist it can ruin the seeds. Maintain a temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds will typically germinate in 21-40 days if conditions are right. This grass is frost tender and is considered an annual. However, it can be grown in large pots that are brought indoors or moved into a greenhouse during the cold months. It can also be transplanted from the ground into a container at the season’s end. When harvesting the blades, cut them at ground level and use as desired.
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