Growing Lemon Balm in the Kitchen
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Sara MacDonald
Posted: Before April 1998

I would like some information on growing lemon balm in my kitchen for cooking purposes. My kitchen has a large sliding door facing south and a smaller window facing east. Should I start the seeds in a seed starter mixture or ordinary soil? Does it like a special kind of pot? What about levels of humidity etc.?

You should start seeds in a starter mix. "Ordinary" soil such as soil directly from the garden is not loose enough – it won’t allow water to drain quickly and won’t allow air to reach the roots. Also it will not be free of weeds and disease pathogens. Later, when the seedlings are large enough to handle transplant them to a potting mix.

The biggest concern is light. Your kitchen has a lot of light coming through the sliding door and window – but still it may not be enough to get strong healthy seedlings. During the first stages of germination it is not necessary to have bright light, but very quickly as the seedlings emerge they need to be exposed to bright light. Set up right next to the sliding door (if that is possible) to get the seedbox close to the light source. If you observe the seedlings growing long and spindly then they may not be getting enough light and you will have to find another location or provide supplementary artificial light.

Providing the right kind of artificial light requires investment in proper equipment and light bulbs and the bother is not for everybody. You can still grow lemon balm (and other herbs) indoors, part-time, at least. During the frost free days in your area you can move your plants outdoors on a balcony, patio or windowsill.

If your plants are going to be part-timers then make sure they do not dry out while outdoors. Herbs dry out much more quickly when exposed to direct sun and wind.

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