Saturday, 18 June 2016

Recalcitrant Lemon Grass

Well-maintained, lemon grass can be a beautiful feature of any garden. Its arching and weeping stems will contrast with all other plants in an Asian herb and vegetable garden, making it a focal point, a point of interest around which other plants can be displayed.

Come the cooler months, however, one’s lemon grass plants, especially those plants which have endured over a number of seasons, will begin to look rather dishevelled. In our temperate climate, lemon grass will be dormant at this time. There is only one action to take and this is the time to strike…

The pictured plant, resident in its position for more than four years, had become large, wide-spreading and unsightly, with dead brown stalks intermingled with developing and plump green-white ones. Worse still, ‘towering’ individual stalks had fallen across a garden walkway, presenting a road-block and a trip-hazard. The plant had to go!

A word of warning… Take care when working with the leaves of lemon grass. They are apt to cut tender skin, akin to a paper-cut. The use of protective gloves is recommended.

Step 1… Separate the withered stalks from the fresh green ones.

Two well-rooted stalks, fit for replanting

Step 2… Replant. Retain a healthy, rooted stem or two for replanting in a convenient location in the garden.

Decision time... Freeze whole or blend?

Step 3… Now, this is the fun part for those who are swashbuckling secateurs-artists. Trim up your lovely kitchen lemongrass into handy lengths. This will depend upon how well-grown your lemon-grass is, but the pieces should be between 10 and 20 centimetres. Do not discard your waste…

Step 4… Decisions, decisions… The lemon grass lengths can easily be placed into zip-lock bags at this point and simply placed in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator for later use in curries.

Step 5… Some of your processed lemon grass lengths can be blended and stored in jars. This is serviceable for us because we enjoy chicken marinated and stir-fried in lemon grass and chilli.

Do not waste the handy mulch

Step 6… Collect together and recycle all your lemongrass waste: it is an excellent weed suppressant and mulch, so can be utilised in a weedy part of the garden. Otherwise, chop it into smaller lengths and compost it.

When the warmer weather returns, your lemon grass will spring to life again, producing more of its lovely arching green stems, not only for the kitchen, but also for the visual feast.

A healthy, young Lemon Grass plant

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