Steps For Harvesting Lemongrass
By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a commonly grown herb. Both its stalk and foliage are used in many prepared dishes such as teas, soups and sauces. While it is easy to grow and care for, some people are not sure about when or how to go about picking lemongrass. In fact, lemongrass harvesting is easy and can be done nearly anytime or year round when grown indoors.
Lemongrass is commonly used to add flavor and aroma to food. However, it is typically the stalk which is most often utilized and edible. Since the stalks are somewhat hard, they’re normally crushed in order to allow the lemony flavor to come through when cooking. Only the tender part inside is considered edible, so once it’s cooked, it can be sliced and added to various dishes. This tender portion also tends to be located towards the bottom of the stalk.
How to Harvest Lemongrass
Harvesting lemongrass is simple. While you can harvest lemongrass pretty much at any time throughout its growing season, in cooler regions, it is normally harvested towards the end of the season, just before the first frost. Indoor plants can be harvested throughout the year.
Keeping in mind that the most edible part is near the bottom of the stalk; this is where you’ll want to snap or cut off your lemongrass. Begin with older stalks first and look for those that are anywhere between ¼- to ½-inch (.6-1.3 cm.) thick. Then either snap it off as close to the roots as possible or cut the stalk at ground level. You can also twist and pull the stalk. Don’t worry if you wind up with some of the bulb or roots.
After you have harvested your lemongrass stalks, remove and discard the woody portions, as well as the foliage (unless you intend on using and drying the leaves for teas or soups). While most people pick lemongrass to use right away, it can be frozen for up to six months if needed.
Now that you know a little more about lemongrass harvesting, you can pick this interesting and tasty herb to use for your own cooking.
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Lemongrass Care – How To Grow And Harvest Lemongrass
Lemongrass is one of those perennials that have yet to invade hearts and gardens this side of the Atlantic. Not for lack of aroma or ornamental value, but the herb’s low-key appeal has to do with the limited niche it occupies in the international cuisine scene. That said, lemongrass is slowly being adapted in many gardens and kitchens as an edible landscaping plant.
You see it on the window sills of kitchens overlooking the backyard and growing in remote corners of the garden where nothing else seems to grow. So what’s the story behind this herb and what other purposes can you grow it for when you’re not a huge fan of broths and soups? This article tells you all you need to know about lemongrass, its uses, and how to grow, harvest, and store it.
Basics About Lemongrass
Before stepping further to the steps of harvesting lemongrass, you should be aware of several basics about this plant. First, you need to know that lemongrass is typically tropical species. It can flourish well as long as the temperature is warm enough. Also, when you keep the weather is suitable, this plant will be far from pets’ trouble and grow brushy.
Like many other tropical plants, this herb plant loves to get sunlight but you are able to cultivate it inside the room. But, make sure the plant does not dry out. Maintain watering plant to keep its soil moist. The drying soil will inhibit optimal development. Applying multipurpose fertilizer or chicken manure compost is one of the good moves in how to harvest lemongrass. This additional nutrition can also help your lemongrass. No need too often, once every two weeks is enough.
Remember, lemongrass is a throughout-season plant. It still grows even in the dry season, but the growth will be slowing down. Also, about the planting media, lemongrass cultivation can be done in pots, sacks, polybag, or open field. So, following steps on how to harvest lemongrass requires you no special skill, just patience, and thoroughness.
How to Plant Lemongrass
With that said, it’s a wise choice to start growing lemongrass plants in your garden.
It’s not only a lot less expensive than buying lemongrass stalks at your local grocery store you’ll also have easy access to a constant supply of the herb right outside your door! Isn’t that great?
To successfully plant lemongrass, though, you should carefully follow these tips:
You can grow a lemongrass plant from seed or from cuttings, but it’s obviously much quicker to start from the latter.
All you have to do is place fresh lemongrass stalks in water for a few weeks and wait for root growth and new leaves to form.
Once this occurs, you can plant it directly into the soil, making sure that its crown is just below the surface.
Now, you want your potting soil to be loose, healthy, and well-drained so that the lemongrass roots don’t drown in water. Loam soil, in particular, is ideal, as its aerated enough for the roots.
Add in natural compost (chicken manure, feather meal, etc.) or non-chemical fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, so the lemon grass grows quickly and robustly too.
Since lemongrass thrives best in tropical weather, make sure it’s planted right before the warmer months—around the time of the last spring frost growing season.
Place it in an area that receives full sun exposure, especially if its grown indoors.
Generally, lemongrass is quite hardy in growing zones 10 to 11, so if you live in a colder place, it’s a good idea to plant it in a container. Come winter, you can easily move it inside with your other potted plants for protection.
Caring for Your Lemongrass Plant
To keep your lemongrass plant happy and healthy, make sure it receives a lot of morning sun—around 6 hours per day. You can also feed it fertilizer once a month for extra nutrients.
Now, when it comes to watering plants, most novice gardeners overdo it.
You should water it frequently, but ensure your drainage system is effective to prevent damaged and decaying roots. Remember, the soil should be moist or slightly damp, not soaking wet.
When properly cared for, lemongrass plants can grow anywhere from two to nine feet tall!
If you live in a cold area, it will likely be on the shorter end of the spectrum, but it’ll still thrive as long as you keep it indoors during winter.
Now let’s talk wrapping these little babies. Wrapping is convenient for making tea. We discovered this method from Big City Gardener. You simply just take a little wrap out, place it in a mug, pour hot water and BAM….
- First you want to harvest your herbs in mid day when they have had time to dry up from the morning dew. Always give your lemongrass enough time to grow, so allowing it to at least reach 12 inches high is best.
- Cut your leaves above the stalk. Remove all brown leaves.
- Rinse and allow to air dry completely before wrapping them.
- Now take a small handful maybe about 10-15 leaves….Oh, and gloves might be a wise choice. Lemongrass is a bit sharp.
- Wrap the leaves around your hand and twist the leaves so they bind together.
6. Make a fist and hold the beginning of the wrap in your hand and simply twist the leaves and thread them through the loop you made with your hand. Twisting the leaves just allows the leaves to stay together and thread a bit easier.
7. Continue to twist and loop through until all your leaves tighten into a wrap.
***Don’t worry about the loose leaves that refuse to twist and wrap. Just consider them rebels and still appreciate what they are going to do for your soul!
8. Place these wraps on a screen and allow to air dry anywhere from 2-6 weeks. You can place a loose sheet over or maybe some cheese cloth to keep the dust from getting on them. Especially if you want to harvest lemongrass for consumption. No one wants dust in their tea!
9. Once dried place in an air tight jar or bag, label, date and enjoy!
Cut into fine rings, the thick stalks of the lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) plant have a slightly peppery taste with a subtle citrus aroma and a hint of coriander. This is used to give Thai curries and other Asian dishes an exotic aroma. Fresh lemongrass tastes especially intense, with the dried alternative being a poor replacement. You can buy fresh lemongrass in most world food stores but you can also easily grow this flavorsome grass yourself.
The lemongrass genus comprises 56 species, most of which are perennials. They naturally grow in the tropics and in warmer, temperate areas of Asia and Europe. Some, such as Cochin grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) or gingergrass (Cymbopogon martinii), are primarily used in the perfume industry. West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), a clump-forming grass that forms dense, sturdy stalks, and is especially popular thanks to its aromatic flavor. Up to 35 inches tall, the linear gray-green evergreen leaves hang slightly and give off a subtle citrus aroma. This species primarily, of course, grows in southern India and Sri Lanka, and is not winter hardy in temperate zones. Nevertheless, this member of the grass family (Poaceae) can be grown here as long as it is brought into the house before the first frost.
Alongside its use in Asian cooking, West Indian lemongrass is also used in the cosmetics industry in soaps, hair oils and perfumes among other products. It is also a popular medicinal plant with sweat-inducing, anti-spasmodic, antibacterial and soothing effects. Due to its digestion-supporting properties, lemongrass tea is a popular treatment for disorders of the digestive system. But it also has a cooling effect.