Rosey the Riveter

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seed Saving: Lemon Balm

Did you happen to notice the new 'search this blog' box on the right hand side?  It's new.  I put it there because my neighbor Lisa complained I didn't have one.  It was too much work to google "Homesteading on the Homefront" + whatever it was she was searching for.  I was all proud of myself this morning when I told her I'd added it just for her.  She quickly burst my bubble by saying "Lately it's all about chickens and bees.  I can't do anything with chickens and bees."


Cue the Lemon Balm.

Lemon Balm is a great herb that I grow (and Lisa grows) to use in a medicinal salve along with Calendula.  Lemon Balm is also an herb that can spread really fast.  Unless, of course, you harvest the seeds to share.  This will greatly reduce spreading, but not prevent it entirely.

I'm heading up to the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello on Friday, and part of my preparations include getting ready for the Old Time Seed Swap on Saturday.  I figured I'd harvest the seeds from my two lemon balm plants.  Except I could find NOTHING online about the best (er, 'easiest') way to do it. So this is the method I came up with and I'm pretty happy with it.

About this time of year, the plants will bolt and the seed pods will dry up and turn these beautiful plants into eyesores.
 Harvest the dead looking stalks.  I filled a bag with only two plants' worth.
Squeezing each stem, run your fingers down the length of it to remove the foliage.
The teeny-tiny black things you see almost in the center of this picture are the seeds. 
I placed a fine-mesh screen over a large container and gently sifted.  You can see hoe the seeds separate and fall into the container.
 There was still a good bit of foliage in with the seeds, so I decided to sift it again.
As you can see, it did a pretty decent job of sifting.  With such small seeds, you're never going to get everything out, so I consider this good enough!
One source I read stated that the shelf-life of lemon balm seeds can range from years up to decades depending, of course, on how they are stored.  These will be placed in labeled bags to make it easier for swapping.
I plan to use a similar method to save other small seeds... like horehound and anise hyssop. 

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