Dill is multi purpose herb grown for its seeds and foliage. It originates from Eastern Europe but is now found being grown in many parts of the world, from US, Europe and Asia.
Anethum graveolens is the Dill that is grown as a herb. Dill is an annual aromatic herb, growing to about 3ft (90cm) tall, with a single hollow but ribbed stems and feathery leaves. It has terminal umbel-shaped flower heads made up of many tiny yellow flowers in summer and elliptic flattened fruits. It is fully hardy. To that attribute you can add the fact that it is more or less trouble free insofar as pests and diseases are concerned. It is yet another member of the Carrot family - Apiaceae which provides us with so many herbs.
It is a great ornamental plant and can be grown in a mixed or herbaceous border, where it will act as a good 'dot' plant with its fine well divided ferny foliage. So, easy to grow and has many uses. Its main requirement, is a full sun position - especially if you want to use the ripened seeds for herbal uses. Incidentally, the seeds are long-lived - probably viable for up to 10 years if kept in cool conditions and stored well.
I will never tire of nipping off the seeds for their refreshing aniseed flavour when chewed!
Some of my favourite photographs I have taken of Dill, are those that have been taken with the late sun behind - highlighting the fine foliage.
Always be careful where you choose to place plants - especially in relation to the lighting effects at different times in the day.
Dill makes a superb container plant - especially if grown in a large terracotta pot. Best to use good garden soil to which you can add around 40% peat based multi-purpose compost. It makes for a good highlight on a sunny patio.
Dill is best propagated from seed, sow the seed straight into the ground where it will grow, sow seeds from April to June, place 2inches apart and plant in a good garden soil and in a sunny position. The flower heads will turn brown when they are ripe and ready to be cut down. Cut the whole Dill plant down and dry the seed heads, remove the seeds by shaking and store in an airtight container.
For those interested in wildlife, the flower heads of Dill are attractive to a host of flying insects - more or less all of which are beneficial to the garden.
Dill is soothing, aids digestion and also helps with constipation. Dill is used in Gripe water that is given to babies to relieve wind and colic.
An infusion of the flower plant is recommended for urinary complaints and also for coughs. Try soaking hands in a decoction of the seeds to help strengthen nails. Poultices of the leaves can be applied to boils to reduce swelling.
Dill has been around for quite some time - being found in ancient tombs, and in Roman ruins in the UK!
It was also used as a middle ages magician's accessory for its properties in warding off evil spirits. Spells and curses fell to the use of Dill.
Harvest the seeds by cutting off the complete ripened sed head, then placing upside down in a paper bag and kept in a well aired cool place. 7-10 days and the seeds will drop into the bag - ready for use or storage.
Dill can be used in many dishes; it is perfect for any seafood dish. Used for its flavour which is similar to aniseed but milder; remember to add Dill at the end of cooking as it will loose its flavour. Use Dill with lamb and fish. Mix with melted butter and add to new potatoes.
Use Dill sparingly as it can overwhelm other flavours. Use the flower heads in salads and the leaves make a wonderful sauce to accompany fish. Make herb butters, add to cottage cheese, soups and chutney. To sweeten the breath try chewing Dill, a Dill tea will help you to sleep.
For a different taste to your sauces or BBQ dip, add a few fronds of the foliage - sparingly and finely chopped. The powerful aniseed taste and aroma can overwhelm!