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FOCUS ON HERBS: ZONE 7: LEMONGRASS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into eleven growing zones. These are determined by weather patterns, and this system helps gardeners identify plants that grow well in their region. Zone 7 has a moderately long growing season that lasts about eight months, with an annual low temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The first frost is around November 15th, and the last frost is around April 15th.


When choosing herbs for the garden, if a perennial herb that isn’t suited to zone 7 is desired, grow it in a container and then bring it indoors over the winter. If the difference is minor, between zones a and b, plant the herb in a protected area, in an alcove, or between a solid fence and a building. If this isn’t possible, mulch heavily around the plant in the fall and the plant should survive the winter.


PLANT PROFILE:

LEMONGRASS: (Cymbopogon citratus):

Lemongrass is an aromatic grass that is packed with a strong citrus flavor and aroma. In the garden, lemongrass forms a tall, grassy clump that is 3 to 5 feet tall. It thrives in full sun, and rich, well-drained soil, and should be planted 24 inches apart. Provide a steady supply of moisture for best growth, and don’t let lemongrass roots dry out. When grown in the garden, lemongrass can reach monstrous proportions, with its cascading leaves growing three to five feet tall, and reaching three feet in width. The plants can be repeatedly harvested throughout the growing season to increase yields.


Lemongrass is used medicinally and adds a pungent lemon aroma & flavor to tea. The inner stem base is used in many Thai dishes & soups. It is a popular beverage tea and everyday home remedy for some of the most common health complaints, including headaches, stress, indigestion, insomnia, coughs, colds & flu.


Lemongrass Tea Recipe: By the Wanderlust Kitchen:

Ingredients: 4 cups water, 2 cups roughly chopped lemongrass stalks, 1/4 cup sugar, and Lime wheels for garnish.

Instructions: Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the lemongrass and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the tea for an additional 5 minutes. Strain the stalks from the liquid. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Serve warm, or chill in the refrigerator and pour over ice.



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