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Lemongrass

A Brief Introduction
Lemon grass is a tall leafy plant having large striped leaves with a jagged edge. It is renowned for its sweet, herbaceous, smoky and lemony aroma and is widely used in preparing teas, soups, and curries. This lemon scented herb contains anti-inflammatory and sedative properties and is also believed to be a natural mosquito repellent. Its digestive nature stimulates appetite, while its vasodilative properties lifts the spirit of the mind.

Besides being widely used as eatables, lemon grass is also suitable for poultry, fish, and seafood. This aromatic grass is often used as tea in African and Latino-American countries. It's known by different names in various languages such as:
  • French: Citronnelle
  • German: Zitronengras
  • Italian: Erba di limone
  • Spanish: Hierba de limon
  • Indian: Bhustrina, sera
  • Indonesian: Sere / sereh
  • Lao: Bai mak nao
  • Malay: Serai
  • Sinhalese: Sera
  • Thai: Takrai.
 
Origin & Culture
Lemongrass, a perennial herb is a native to India and the nearby island of Sri Lanka. It is widely cultivated in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, and designates two different species namely East Indian (cymbopogon flexuosus) and West Indian (cymbopogon citratus). These aromatic grasses are extensively cultivated in Guatemala, India, the People's Republic of China, Paraguay, England, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Indo-China region, Africa, Central America, and South America.
 

Soil: The plant grows best in well drained sandy soils free of weeds and soil borne pathogens such as fusarium and verticillium.
     It also tolerates other types of soil including sand, if given some care.

Propagation: Since the plants rarely flower or set fruit, propagation is usually done by dividing old clumps during springs and summers

Climatic requirements:
Temperatures ranging from 64-84_F, and high humidity (80-100%) are best suited for cultivating lemongrass.      However, in Stanislaus County, lemongrass is successfully grown in high temperatures (70-100_F) and low relative humidity (40-60%)

Light:
Since lemongrass utilizes sunlight very effectively, therefore it should be planted in areas of the farm exposed to the sun

Fertilization: Lemongrass requires the same nutritional requirements as sweet corn. Cultivators generally applied on the average, 120-180 lbs. of nitrogen per acre, 140-180 lbs. of phosphorous and some potassium if needed

Irrigation: The plant requires an average of 24-30 inches of water per year, depending upon the nature of the soil, soil moisture and other environmental conditions. Irrigation is usually done on an 8-10 day schedule. However, due to the shallow root system of the crop, it is more beneficial to irrigate more often with lighter irrigations

Harvest: Though lemongrass is a perennial crop in the tropical areas of the world, in certain places, it is seasonal due to the extremely cold weather. Under normal circumstances, it can be harvested up to four times per year.
 

Lemongrass Recipes
This fragrant grass is a versatile performer in the kitchen and is widely used in preparing beverages, soups, teas, herbal medicines and other dishes. Lemongrass harmonizes well with coconut milk, especially with chicken or seafood, and there are countless Thai and Sri Lankan recipes exploiting this combination. Its stems are also used in teas, pickles and in flavouring marinades. Some of the popular lemongrass recipes are:

  • Taro Infused with Lemon Grass and Ginger
  • Roast Kabocha Soup with Lemon Grass Cream
  • Taro Infused with Lemon Grass and Ginger
  • Thai Coconut Soup with Lemon Grass and Sugarcane Chicken Dumplings
  • Mussels in Lemon Grass Broth
  • Jasmine Tea Souffle with Lemon Grass Ice Cream
  • Cornmeal Crusted Skate with Rice Noodle and Pea Salad Lemon Grass Caper Brown Butter Vinaigrette
  • On-the-Half-Shell with Lemon Grass Mignonette
  • Lemon Grass Skewered Shrimp, etc.
 
Medical Properties of Lemongrass
Besides being used as an aromatic spice, lemongrass oil also contains many medicinal properties. It is widely used in many pharmaceutical formulations for its analgesic, anti depressant, anti microbial, anti pyretic, anti septic, astringent, bactericidal and carminative properties. Herbologists prescribe its oil for various ailments like headaches, toothaches, etc.

Lemongrass is also used as a diuretic agent for fever and as an insect repellent. Its preparation with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea. Lemongrass oil goes fine with the other essential oils like Basil, Cedar Wood, Coriander, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Lavandin and Tea Tree.

It is also an excellent antiseptic and deodorising agent. It is added to foot baths and foot talc for smelly, sweaty feet. For any fungal infections of the foot, it can be applied directly to treat ringworm and tinea.

Sometimes, It is likely to irritate skin and produce other types of irritations too. So, it is better to avoid its application during pregnancy period.
 
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