Dill is a hardy annual, a native of the Mediterranean region and Southern Russia. It grows wild among the corn in Spain and Portugal and upon the coast of Italy, but rarely occurs as a cornfield weed in Northern Europe. The plant is referred to in St. Matthew XXiii., 23, though the original Greek name Anethon, was erroneously rendered Anise by English translators, from Wicklif (1380) downwards. Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow and would make a great first herb for someone who has never grown herbs before. You’ll find lots of uses for both the fronds and the seeds in the kitchen. A sprig of dill will perk up almost any soup, salad, or main dish.
What to look for:
The plant grows ordinarily from 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and is very like fennel, though smaller, having the same feathery leaves, which stand on sheathing foot-stalks, with linear and pointed leaflets. Unlike fennel, however, it has seldom more than one stalk and its long, spindle-shaped root is only annual. It is of very upright growth, its stems smooth, shiny and hollow, and in midsummer bearing flat terminal umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose small petals are rolled inwards. The flat fruits, the so-called seeds, are produced in great quantities. They are very pungent and bitter in taste and very light, an ounce containing over 25,000 seeds. Their germinating capacity lasts for three years. The whole plant is aromatic.
How Mather Nature loves it:
This annual is of very easy culture. When grown on a large scale for the sake of its fruits, it may be sown in drills 10 inches apart, in March or April, 10 lb. of the seed being drilled to the acre, and thinned out to leave 8 to 10 inches room each way Sometimes the seed is sown in autumn as soon as ripe, but it is not so advisable as spring sowing. Careful attention must be given to the destruction of weeds. The crop is considered somewhat exhaustive of soil fertility.Dill likes to be planted in cool weather. In warm winter areas that don’t experience a hard frost, you can plant dill in fall or winter. In cooler areas, plant dill a week or two before your last hard frost. After the first sowing, plant again every 10 days or so for a continuous crop.
When growing in containers, use a deep container to accommodate the long roots, and remember that you will eventually have a plant that is three feet tall. Plants grown in containers may require staking.
How to use it:
As a sweet herb, Dill is not much used in this country. When employed, it is for flavouring soups, sauces, etc., for which purpose the young leaves only are required. The leaves added to fish, or mixed with pickled cucumbers give them a spicy taste. Dill vinegar, however, forms a popular household condiment. It is made by soaking the seeds in vinegar for a few days before using.
The French use Dill seeds for flavouring cakes and pastry, as well as for flavouring sauces. To brew a stomach-soothing tea, use two teaspoons of mashed seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep for ten minutes. Drink up to three cups a day. In a tincture, take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to three times a day. To treat colic or gas in children under two, give small amounts of a weak tea. Many herbalists recommend combining dill and fennel to ease colic in infants.
Perhaps the chief culinary use of Dill seeds is in pickling cucumbers: they are employed in this way chiefly in Germany where pickled cucumbers are largely eaten.