Are you growing lemon balm in Iowa, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?
Harvesting lemon balm is not as easy as it seems.
- Lemon Balm have a very short window when they can be harvested and still taste great.
So if you harvest them too early they may not be ready and taste bad. And if you harvest them too late they may become infected with mold, fungus, insects, etc., and become inedible.
Today, I’m going to teach you the ideal time to harvest lemon balm in Iowa:
- To Learn More About HOW to Grow Lemon Balm, Check Out This GUIDE!
When Do I Harvest Lemon Balm in Iowa?
As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your lemon balm: the physical features of the lemon balm & weather (time).
Harvest Lemon Balm if They Look Like This!!!
The physical features of lemon balm are what most gardeners commonly rely on to determine if they are ready to be picked off the plant or not.
In general, you should harvest lemon balm if they have the following physical features:
- The entire lemon balm is a solid red color. If the lemon balm is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
- The lemon balm is slightly soft. Too hard means it is not ready. Too soft means it is overripe (but still edible)
- Easily able to be deattached from the the plant. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs and is ready.
Harvest Your Lemon Balm During THIS Time of Year!!!
In general, you should harvest lemon balm:
- 65 to 85 days after starting lemon balm from seed
- 40 to 50 days after planting lemon balm in your garden
- 20 to 30 days after lemon balm first appear
And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your lemon balm before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your lemon balm plant and make your lemon balm inedible.
For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in Iowa. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.
Iowa Last & First Frost Dates
It should be noted that you should not overly rely on the first frost of the year. The average first frost of the year is only correct 30% of the time.
Instead, pay close attention to your local weather.
When you know a frost is coming you need to take action.
- If lemon balm are in pots, bring them inside
- If lemon balm are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
- Pick all lemon balm. If they are not ready, place them in a brown paper bag and store them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks to see if they become edible.
If you want to learn WHEN to harvest ANY Vegetable in Iowa, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.