By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Everyone is familiar with dill as one of the sour components of dill pickles but dill also has a long history as an herb that provided protection for those who processed it.
The term “dill” comes from an Old Norse term, “dilla”, that means to soothe, calm and/or lull.
Dill was valued by the Romans, as a way of improving ones luck, while the Greeks viewed it as a way of encouraging wealth.
Many Romans and Greeks hung the seed heads of dill in homes, doorways, and above cradles to protect the inhabitance from evil. It was also believed that if evil approached you, protection could be acquired by serving the evil spirit a cup of dill tea. On the other end of the spectrum, it was believed that if you served wine infused with dill to someone who you desired to have a relationship with then…
Regardless of ones feeling about dill, this herb is a beautiful addition to any garden and is a great herb to start with especially if one is a beginning gardener.
To start a dill-planting project, either plant in a container or in the garden. Dill requires a rich, well-drained soil. Only plant dill seed and not plants. Dill does not do well when it is transplanted and since it is so easy to grow from seed there is no real reason to plant plants. Start the dill-planting project in the spring by sprinkling the seed on the garden soil and cover with Â¼ inch of soil.
Water the area in and monitor the moisture level throughout the season. Continue planting seeds every three weeks until mid-summer is reached. This approach will guarantee a constant supply of dill through the whole growing season.
To get the most from the garden space, consider planting dill around roses. Roses are notorious attractors of aphids. Dill attracts beneficial insects whose larvae feed on aphids. To add a designer touch to the garden space or container garden, plant dill and marigolds together. Never plant dill and fennel together. Both of these plants will pollinate the other and produce herbs that are not true. This lack of “trueness” will prevent the herbs from being edible.
Both leaves and seeds can be harvested from the dill plant. To harvest dill leaves, pick in the early morning and only pick what you are going to use that day. To harvest the seeds, wait until the seed head turns brown. Once they turn brown, cut the seed head off and place into a paper bag. Hang the bag up and wait for the seeds to fall into the bag and enjoy.
Until we blog again, sweet and sour is the game when one thinks of dill. Remember though, that if evil spirits prowl or love evades then give dill a try to save the day.