Mother Earth Living

2010 Herb of the Year: All About Dill

By Susan Belsinger
February/March 2010
Add to My MSN

For a steady supply of feathery dill leaves for your salads, keep your plant cut back.
Photo by David Cavagnaro


Content Tools

Related Content

Growing Dill From Seed

Grow the kind of dill that fits your gardening and dining style. Also, comment to enter our latest g...

Grow Dill 'Dukat' From Seed

Although pickling is the most well known use for dill, don't forget all the wonderful ways to includ...

How To: Grow Lavender Plants

This spring, guest blogger Patsy Bell Hobson is expanding her lavender collection to extend the bloo...

Herbs in Breakfast Dishes: Dill & Salmon Recipe

Herbs aren't traditionally used in breakfast dishes, nor is fish. Still, this dish is excellent any ...

Dill grows from a thick, hollow, round stem. Feathery foliage in shades from muted bright green to blue-green reach about 18 to 48 inches in height, depending on the variety. The bright yellow flowers are borne on umbels which become heavy with flavorful dill seed later in the season. Dill attracts the swallowtail butterfly caterpillar, which devours its tender foliage; so plant enough to share with these creatures and the other beneficial insects that dill attracts.

Growing Dill

Dill will grow in most climates and requires sun, well-drained soil and light fertilization. It germinates and grows quickly and may be planted after danger of frost, or year-round in suitable climates. To ensure constant leaf harvest in my Zone 7 garden, I keep it cut back from the get-go. Depending upon where you live, sow seed at least a few times from spring through fall. According to Art Tucker, Ph.D., in the Big Book of Herbs (Interweave Press, 2000), “Dill responds to cool weather and long days, so as soon as a minimum 25-degree night temperature is reached, direct seeding is done on a smooth, well-prepared field from early spring to late summer. Separate plantings a few weeks apart will provide a continuous crop of dill weed for the fresh market.” I live in Maryland and Art lives in Delaware; this system works for us. Folks up in the North might have dill in their gardens all summer, while someone in Florida or Texas will probably sow dill as a late fall and winter crop. Dill will bolt in hot, dry weather, or if it is crowded. Dill’s taproots dig down 12 to 18 inches and its branches need room to spread, so don’t bother trying to grow it indoors.

Harvesting Dill

Harvest dill’s feathery foliage throughout the season; the tender young sprigs are the best for salads. The flowers are delicious; just snip them from their stems and sprinkle them over salads, vegetables or use them in butters or vinegars. To harvest seeds, allow the umbels to form on some plants. The flavor of green dill seeds is marvelous and I enjoy it in this stage of maturity, especially in pickling. Allow the seeds to turn pale brown in order to collect them and dry them for culinary or sowing purposes. Cut the tops from the plants with about a foot or so of the stalk intact and hang upside down over a screen or with the umbels in paper bags to catch the seeds. When dry, store in dark glass jars.

While researching dill, I was surprised to find it mentioned in only a few of my medicinal herb books. The seeds are most often used medicinally, although the foliage is sometimes used. Perhaps the best-known use for dill, passed down for centuries, is an infusion of the leaf or decoction of the seed to remedy a baby’s colic. Dill seeds are pungent and have soothing and warming properties; they help aid digestion and are a tonic for the stomach, relieving gastric and intestinal distress. A cup of dill seed tea eases the discomfort from digestive upsets and helps insomnia, acting as a mild soporific.

Dill For Health

Dill seed oil is antibacterial and will allay bad breath. Chewing a few dill seeds will freshen breath and help digestion, so it’s great after meals. Dill is a diuretic and also helps to tonify the liver and pancreas. It has been used to increase milk flow in nursing mothers and to ease menstrual pain. It helps alleviate moist conditions in the body, so it is sometimes used in treating viral conditions. Soaking your hands in a dill seed decoction will not only relax you, it also will strengthen your nails.


Author Susan Belsinger uses herbs every day in and around her home and greenhouse. She and the International Herb Association are releasing a book on dill, the Herb of the Year for 2010.

Click here for the main article,  2010 Herb of the Year: Dill (Anethum graveolens)


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.