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Lemon-grass Cymbopogon citratus grown outdoor

Some years ago I brought a piece of lemon-grass home from Thailand. It was grown in pots, inside our house during winter, on the terrace in summer. Size was bearable, and I was really pleased. But then I heard that pot is crucial to how large lemon-grass grows. The biggest pot I can get is my garden, so this year they were planted out in June. They grew well out in the garden, and my tender loving care could be reserved for other crops. The yield was higher because I had planted more plants.
Before frost, I took one of the plants into a pot so that it can overwinter in our glass bay window – it might as well hibernate on a window sill.

Apparently lemon-grass recover quickly from division and transplanting, growth halt for 14 days, and then growth begins again, exploiting the new conditions. It’s my impression, that lemon-grass isn’t especially heat-dependent. Actually an easy plant to grow if you don’t mind caring for it in the winter season.

The fresh taste of lemon-grass is somewhat similar to lemon balm. A delightful and slightly rough lemon flavour. Lemon-grass has the advantage of preserving the lemon taste well when dried. The disadvantage is that the plants has to be overwintered indoors. Well, left in the garden it will not be invasive up here in the north 🙂

One need not travel to South-east Asia to acquire a plant. You can buy seeds, or plants from garden centres. Sometimes I find fresh lemon grass in some immigrant shops and supermarkets. It roots easily.


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Home grown Greater Galangal Alpinia galanga

Like many a tourist, I bring home souvenirs. I have a preference for the botanical, non endangered kinds. Two years ago I brought greater galangal and lemon grass home from Thailand. They have both grown well since, but this post is only about the galangal.

In the early 1980’s I saw forests in Himalayas crowded with cardamom plants in the forest floor. These conditions I’ve visualised, when growing my greater galangal. Warm, shadow, nutritious, humid, but not wet. I’ve transformed it into a large pot, 23cm across, could have been even larger. Soil recycled from used growing bags from the greenhouse. The galangal never get direct sun. In winter I keep it withdrawn from the windows in the living room. In summer in the shade of the tomato plants in the greenhouse.

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Peeled galangal

What to do with the root of greater galangal? It is always the problem when growing something exotic (to you that is) – how can I make use of it in a pleasing way?
Galangal soup tasted delicious in Thailand. But I’ve never learned to cook Thai food. Really I was just re-potting the plant, never expected a harvest!
A quick search on the internet: Galangal is sold frozen in Asian shops.

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Sliced greater galangal ready for the freezer

The galangal was thinly sliced in a hurry, spread in a thin layer in a zip lock food grade bag. This way, we can pick a few pieces at a time to use in our cooking. Hope we learn to use greater galangal in our food.

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Galangal going into the bottle

The annoying end pieces shouldn’t be wasted…what to do…..Oh-yes..I cut them in tiny cubes, in a little bottle, cover with vodka and a dog tag around the neck:

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Greater Galangal Vodka

Now patience, let the galangal and vodka rest some months.
Will be a joy to sip in the midsummer nights.

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Sweet CicilyMyrrhis odorata

Normally this is a quite hairy plant, but my version is hairless. I originates in the woods near Herlufsholm, a former benedictine monatery, Skovkloster (1135). It’s about 20 years ago I collected some seeds from a large clump at the edge of the wood. Ever since it has followed me in the different gardens I have had. It also grew in the hedge of garden of my childhood, not far from the monastery, also the hairless variant. Not until I saw the normal hairy form in a schoolgarden in Copenhagen did I understand I could be different.

Every garden should grow a few plants of Sweet Cicily. All parts are edible, both root, leaves, stalks and unripe seeds. When seed ripen to brown, I no longer enjoy them, since they get fibrous and unpleasant. Sweet Cicily thrives in the shadier parts of the garden many find difficult to grow well.

It is propagated by seeds, sown same autumn or very early spring (march or earlier), as it is shortlived and need to rest in the winters frost to grow well. It is a perenniel, starting very early in spring, when fresh delicious leaves are wellcome in the kitchen. It is hard on ground-elder, and could be tried to control the groud-elder. As a weed Sweet Cicily is easy to control, as it only propagates by seed, and plants are easy to dig up with no resprouting.

It has a sweet taste of anis/licorice, can even be used as a sweetener. Green unripe seeds are irresistible when passing by in the garden.