Lemongrass is not an overly fussy plant and will grow in a wide range of soils but if given the choice prefers rich, free draining soils. If you feel your soil is a bit dry and undernourished, try adding compost and manures to improve your soil and help with better growth of your plants.
For the best ongoing growth keep plants well watered throughout the summer.
If your clump gets a bit out of control you can be cut back hard in late winter and fresh new growth will appear in spring. If you are growing in colder areas you may get some browning of the leaves in winter which should be left there until early spring, then you can cut it back to make way for new shoots as the weather warms up. Always be careful not over water in winter.
Lemongrass will grow happily with Coriander, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Verbena, Echinacea and Marigold.
For cooking purposes remove the whole stalk from the main plant as it’s the white base of the stem that is used. Pull off one or two outer leaf layers and you’re good to start chopping
You can harvest lemongrass at any time of the year but keep in mind that most plant growth occurs during the warmer months. If you have a small plant go easy on the harvesting during winter as it will be some time before replacement growth occurs.
Benefits of Lemongrass
Lemongrass is an absolute powerhouse of essential nutrients and provides many health benefits. It is a source of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, and vitamin C. It also provides essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, and iron, which are required for the healthy functioning of the human body.
Detoxifies the Body
Lemongrass has been shown to assist in cleansing and flushing harmful toxic wastes out of the body, as a result of its diuretic properties. Detoxification helps in the regulation of various organs of the body, including the liver and kidney, while also helping to lower the levels of uric acid.
It has anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation is thought to play a major role in many health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. Two of the main compounds in lemongrass, citral and geranial, are thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory benefits. These compounds are said to help stop the release of certain inflammation-causing markers in your body.
Assists with Fever
Lemongrass is a febrifuge (a medicine used to reduce fever) and is commonly known in eastern medicine as ‘fever grass’, because of its effects in lowering fever.
Lemongrass works as an antiseptic and is effective in treating all type of infections from Athlete’s Foot to urinary tract infections (UTI) because of its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. Studies have shown that the herb exerts healing effects on dermatological infections, such as yeast infections, by inhibiting the growth of pathogens.
As a diuretic
A diuretic makes you pee more frequently and assists your body to release excess fluid. In 2001a study was conducted which evaluated the effects of lemongrass tea as a diuretic in Rats. It was concluded that the diuretic activity of lemon grass tea worked well without causing organ damage or other side effects which can be caused by prescription-based diuretics.
Lemongrass is said to be a very good nervine (a medicine used to calm the nerves) and has been used as an effective tonic for the nervous system. It is said to stimulate the mind and helps in combating, nervousness, vertigo, and various neuronal. It is used in therapeutic baths, which assist in calming the nerves and alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and fatigue caused by stress.
A few other quick things of note, Lemongrass has galactagogic properties, which promote the formation of milk in breasts and can assist breastfeeding mothers to increase milk supply. It is also effective in stimulating menstrual flow and helps in soothing menstrual cramps and discomfort.
1kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm cubes
2 brown onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
80mls fish sauce
60ml tamari (or soy sauce)
100mls lime juice
60gms brown sugar (this can be adjusted to taste – I prefer 30gms but like mine less sweet)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh coriander leaves
1 fresh cup parsley leaves
Combine the chicken, onion, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and brown sugar in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to marinate.
Heat a large fry pan or wok over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to lift the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Add the chicken to the pan in batches and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and beginning to caramelise. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat in batches until all chicken is cooked.
Pour the marinade into the pan and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marinade is reduced by half. Remove from heat and pour over the chicken.
Add mint, parsley and coriander leaves and mix well. Serve immediately.
Addictive Fresh Lemongrass Tea