Herban Renewal April—Dill

Blooming in the Garden Now

Dill blooming by back fence. Dragon Crossing sign.Living in sunny Florida as we do, there is nearly always something in bloom. Even in the winter, petunias, nasturtiums and snapdragons glowed with color in the garden. I have had a herb garden pretty much everywhere I have ever lived, and when we moved here, one of the first things Gaia and I did in the yard was to clean our the raised bed near the Garden House and begin planting herbs. A number of these plants were ones I hauled down from North Carolina. Most of them thrived through the first winter here, but some succumbed to the heat and humidity of the Florida summer. Even though NC got plenty hot (and humid), there are definite climate adjustments to be made here.

For instance, I can sow my dill seed in fall here. The seedlings grew slowly through the winter months, but speed up as spring arrives. Some are in bloom now, with others coming along at various stages. Though I saved seed from the Bouquet Dill I first sowed two years ago, most of this new crop are from the former plants self-seeding. I love volunteers in the garden, and watch for them, moving the seedlings to more agreeable spots if necessary.

Dill is an annual herb, dying back after the yellow umbels ripen into tasty seeds. It is a member of the family Apiaceae, along with parsley and carrots. However, it is the sole species of the genus Anethum.

Just brushing against the feathery leaves of this plant in the garden releases a heady, appetizing fragrance. As it happens, this herb is very good for digestion, as well as a source of dietary fiber and an excellent source of the minerals manganese, iron and magnesium. These are just a few of its health benefits. For more information, research some of the wonderful sites offering articles on the medicinal uses of the Homely plants.

Both the fresh and dried leaves (or Weed) are tangy additions to pickles, salads and salad dressings, fish, soups and stews. The seed of this versatile plant is also used as a spice. These seeds, which are actually the fruit of the dill plant, are stronger in flavor than the weed. They are wonderful in breads and other baked goods, vegetable dishes, and most notably, in Dill Pickles.

Though I have fresh dill and seeds available usually both in spring and fall, I keep a supply of these versatile ingredients in dried form in the kitchen as well. Both the weed and the seeds are easily dried for later use.