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Lewes, Delaware
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June 7, 2011     Cape Gazette
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June 7, 2011
 

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.rim ~NNIIIJN~ ! Cape Gazette TUESDAY, JUNE 7 - THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2011 27 HISTORIC LEWES FARMERS MARKET BEGINS SIXTH SEASON A line gathers under the tent at the Calliope Organic Farms booth during the market's first day. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS Lily Stanek, 6~ o perate~ p I~rngna~l~ stand pt the farmers market. MEMBERS OF THE CITY OF LEWES government joined May 28 to ring the school bell to officially open the Historic Lewes Farmers Market for another season. From left are Victor Letonoff, Mayor Jim Ford, Barbara Vaughan, Fred Beaufait and Ted Becker. A record crowd was on hand when the bell rang at 8 a.m., May 28 to open the Historic Lewes Farmers Market for its sixth season. The market, which features nearly 40 vendors from throughout the Delmarva Peninsula, is open through Octo- ber. Except for four weeks - June 25, July 9, Aug. 6 and Oct. 1 - when the market moves to Shields Elementary School off Savannah Road, vendors set up shop at the Lewes Historical Society Complex at 110 Shipcarpenter St. in downtown Lewes. The market schedules cooking demonstrations, special events and book read- ings for children. The market is competing in the 2011 America's Favorite Farmers Markets contest. The contest is a nationwide challenge to see which markets can rally the most support from their communities. Online voting will take place through Aug. 31, when four winning markets - one large, one medium, one small, and one boutique - will receive the title of America's Favorite Farmers Market for 2011. Winners will be featured on the leading food site, Epicurious.com, and will be honored at local celebrations that include prizes. To vote, go to farmland.org/vote and select the Historic Lewes Farmers Market. Last year, the market placed second ~, nationwide in the medium-size market category. Go to historiclewesfarmersmar- kot.ofg of phono 6 -1436 for maPo iflfsPm tien. ince ancient times, the gummy sap of balsam trees was used to treat wounds: The Bible's "balm of Gilead" is one of them. Today our word "balm" comes from this ancient balsam tree, so any plant with the name "balm" in it is usually medicinal. Lemon balm (Melissa offlci- nails) is a sweet-smelling herb of the mint family. Its citrusy leaves are used to season teas and potpourri, and even used in liqueurs and yes, were once widely used as a medicine. Lemon balm grows up to two feet tall and blooms in late summer with tiny two- lipped flowers. It prefers full sun, but is somewhat shade-tol- erant, and since it.is the leaves rather tim the flowers that are used, it.can be grown even where it might not flower at all. In fact, the t.aste is best if har- vested before the plant blooms. Because it spreads from un- derground runners as well as by seed, lemon balm will form large clumps. Because it spreads so easily, lemon balm may become an invasive weed, but can be kept in check by pulling out the young plants. You can also sim- ply cut the flowers before they can set seed. Because lemon balm is drought tolerant, it is a great low-maintenance plant. Like most flowering herbs, it attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies. While this herb is hardy from USDA zones 4 through 9, in ar- eas of harsh winters, mulch in late fall. Your plants will die down to the roots every winter but sprout again in spring. You can easily grow lemon balm from stem cuttings, or from seeds. Indeed, the seeds self sow easily, and you may fred new plants throughout the gar- den. Lemon balm is widely available as a plant or seeds. Seeds are available online from sources such as Johnny's (www.johnnyseeds.com) and High Mowing Seeds (www.high- mowingseeds.com). To grow from seed you can either direct seed in the garden or start seeds indoors six to eight weeks be- fore your last frost. The seed takes 12 to 21 days to germinate. Lemon balm thrives in a wide range of soil pH between 5.6 and 9.0, though it does best in a range ofpH 6.0 to 7.5. Add com- post to the bed before planting and keep the area well watered. Space the plants about a foot apart. Lemon balm makes a great container plant that will release its fragrant lemony scent throughout the year. Keep it in a bright, sunny window and don't let the roots dry out. Like many herbs, it seems to do best when crowded, so use a pot that just barely holds the roots. Fresh lemon balm leaves are delicious paired with cucumbers and tomatoes or added into fruit salads. You can even toss some leaves into your bathwater. The lemony leaves brew into a pleasant herbal tea and can even be mixed with black tea to add a lemon twist. The tea is said to help relieve insomnia, headaches, indigestion and even anxiety. With lemon balm in the gar- FRESH LEMON BALM leaves also make a delicious herbal tea. den or on the kitchen win- '" dowsill, even the stormiest weather will seem "balmy." Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P.O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.