Dill, which is also known as dill weed, belongs to the family of annual herbs. The Latin name of dill is anethum gravolens. It is from the words ano and theo, which literally means upwards running. Meanwhile, gravis means strong smell. Both of these words refer to some of the physical characteristics of dill.
Thinking of planting dill in the garden? Curious about the health benefits and the different applications of this herb? Keep on reading the rest of this post and we’ll let you know all the things that you have to learn about dill.
History of Dill
Dill belongs to the Apiaceae family, which is the same with parsley, cilantro, and carrots, among others. There are several mentions of dill in historical publications, which is an indication that it has indeed been around for a long time now.
In as early as 3,000 BC, dill was already found in medical textbooks from ancient Egypt, where it was popularly used as an aphrodisiac and as a soothing agent. During the 1st century, meanwhile, dill is considered as a symbol of fortune in Rome. The Romans also make wreaths that are made from dill to honor heroes and athletes. The wounds of ancient Roman fighters were also treated with dill. In the bible, dill was also mentioned. In Mathew 23:23, dill was used for payments. It is also said that Hippocrates, nicknamed as the Father of Medicine, has used dill as a natural mouth cleaner.
There were different ancient beliefs about the uses of dill. For instance, wives would hang it on the doors of their homes, believing that this can provide the family with protection from harm. In addition, a cup of tea is also consumed to keep evil spirits away.
Types and Varieties of Dill
There are different varieties of dill that are available, and some of them will be briefly discussed in this section.
Among others, one of the physical characteristics that you will notice from Superdukat type is the tall and straight stem, which is also the reason why harvesting will be effortless. The height can reach up to two feet and can grow slowly compared to bouquet. Compared to ducat, meanwhile, Superdukat yields a higher amount of essential oils.
Health Benefits of Dill
Since the ancient times, dill has been one of the most popular herbs not only because of its taste and smell, but also because of its medicinal value.
- Protection from Free Radicals: One of the most significant benefits of dill is its abundance of antioxidants. The latter will provide the protection that is needed by the cells from the damage that can be possibly caused by free radicals. Specifically, dill has glutathione-S-transferase that aids in cellular protection.
- Improved Bone Density: Another good reason to consume dill is because it is a potent source of calcium. In fact, according to several sources, a tablespoon of dill seed is already equivalent to 1/3 cup of milk. This will aid in the prevention of bone loss, making you less susceptible to osteoporosis, among other problems.
- Improved Digestion: Whether it is eaten before or after meals, dill can help the digestive system. It can be an excellent appetizer and its essential oils will provide stimulation for the appetite. In the same way, it can also help the body to easily digest want you have eaten and to excrete bile.
- Reduction of Depression: In one research from the American Journal of Therapeutics, it has been concluded that dill contains natural antidepressants. Its plant extracts can help to calm the mind without any adverse effect.
- Prevention of Insomnia: This benefit is closely linked to the ability of the herb to lessen depression. The essential oil can provide hypnotic and sedative effects, which will make it easy for you to go to sleep.
- Boost for the Immune System: Dill will also be an excellent choice if you are looking for the perfect way to increase the defense of the body against common illnesses. With its antimicrobial components, it can be effective in warding off infections, especially common cold and cough.
- Reduction of Menstrual Cramps: If you often suffer from menstrual cramps and similar pain during your period, dill can be an effective natural treatment. It has flavonoids that can maintain the healthy level of hormones in the body of a woman.
- Natural Oral Care: For many centuries, dill is an herb that has gained a reputation for its uses in oral health. Its leaves and seeds can freshen the mouth and your breath. It also has essential oils that can be effective in treating mouth infections. It also protects the teeth and gums from potential damages that can be caused by free radicals.
- Provides Energy: If you often feel down, dill can be helpful. It provides the fatty acids that are needed by the body. In turn, these fatty acids will be converted into energy. These benefits can be specifically attributed to triacylglycerol structure, which distributes the fatty acids in the body.
Culinary and Other Applications of Dill
Aside from its health applications, the following are other common uses of dill:
- Cooking: For most people, the only reason that they plant dill in the garden is to use it in their recipes and not for traditional medicine. The dominant flavor and smell of dill will make it an excellent ingredient for dishes with a distinct taste. From lemon-braised chicken to crunchy spring salad, yogurt biscuits to spinach dip, the sky is the limit when it comes to how you can cook with the use of dill.
- Bug Repellent: Having bugs at home can be a big problem, especially because of the infestation that they can cause in the garden. The good news is that you can use dill for creating a home-made repellent to make sure that bugs will never bother you again.
- Flower Arrangement: The physical appearance of dill, especially of its leaves and flowers, will make it an excellent choice for bouquets and other floral arrangements. They have an earthy shade that will make an excellent complement for bright flowers, such as zinnias.
- Cocktails: Many of you would know that dills are great for pickles. However, only a few will actually be aware that it can indeed be used in cocktails as well. The aroma of dill makes it offer distinctive quality for different drink concoctions. Among others, it is popularly used for a martini.
Growing Dill: Tips and Tricks
After learning about the many benefits of dill, you might by now be interested in planting dill in the garden. We have great news for you! It is easier than what you have initially thought. You do not necessarily need to have a green thumb. Even if you are a beginner, it would be easy for you to succeed in planting dill. Just keep in mind the things that will be further discussed in this section.
Growing dill is best to be done by planting seeds and not through transplanting. Make sure to select the right seeds, especially the variety that you would like to plant. Next, sow seeds into the ground, preferably at a depth of at least ¼ inch. Also, see to it that they will be 18 inches apart from each other. This will provide each plant more room to grow. If they are constricted, they will probably end up being unhealthy. After the seeds are planted, you should wait for at least two weeks before the plant will start appearing on the surface. After another two weeks or when they start to grow in full bloom, trim the plants.
The quality of the soil is one of the most important things that should be emphasized when it comes to planting dill. The soil must be moist and well-drained. Ideally, the pH range should be 5.0 to 7.0. On the other hand, the temperature should be anywhere from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
More than the soil, you should also select the right position of the plant, which will be instrumental in its optimal growth. Choose an area that receives full sun. While it can grow in an area with light shade, the problem is that the plant will not end up to be as bushy compared to planting it in a sunny spot. Adding organic matter to the soil will also be a good idea.
When it comes to harvesting, one of the most crucial is deciding on when exactly is the right time to do so. With this, according to gardening experts, it is best to harvest within two months after planting the seeds. It is also best to harvest during the time of the day when it is cool.
If you want to use only the seeds, you can pick the flowers once they have reached full bloom. Put the flower in a paper bag and keep it in a dry place. Wait until it becomes ripe. Hang the flower upside down and collect the dry seeds that will fall.
If you plan to use only the leaves, on the other hand, you can just regularly have the plant trimmed once it has fully grown. The appearance of at least four leaves can already be an indication that it is ready for harvest. Use clean and sharp scissors to take out a number of leaves that you need for a specific application.
Once it is harvested, use dill as soon as possible, especially the leaves. This can provide you with the guarantee of their freshness. Otherwise, you can keep it in the fridge, but be sure to use it within a week. Wrap the dill in a moist paper towel and keep inside a bag with a seal. You can also keep the dried leaves in a container with an airtight seal. The same thing is true for dried seeds. The fresh leaves, meanwhile, can be frozen.
Care and Maintenance for Dill
Like in the case of other herbs, you need to be responsible enough to take care of your dill. You should check on it often and execute any immediate action that is necessary. Among others, one of the most important is adding fertilizers. Do not use just any fertilizer. Make sure that it is made from the right ingredients. Organic manure and compost can help in the growth of your plant.
It is also encouraged that you pinch off the shoots that grow from young plants. This will be a good way to increase the thickness of the foliage. It will also help to make the plant rigid despite the rain.
If you are living in an area where it is windy, you should also provide the necessary support that is needed by the plant. A bamboo stake will make it stable. You will also be required to water the plant regularly. This is especially the case during the hot season. Nonetheless, water only with the right amount and avoid the soil from being soaked.
Regularly check for the appearance of weeds. If there are any, be sure to take them off the soonest so that they won’t disrupt the growth of dill.
While there are no serious diseases that can affect dill, they can be prone to pests. Tomato hornworms and parsley caterpillars are some of the most common pests that you can see. Simply take them out by hand if you see them in your plant. Leaf spots can also be common. Take out the part that is affected once it has started showing signs of rot. This will prevent the problem from spreading to the healthy parts. Also, the reason why spacing is necessary is to make sure that the pests won’t easily transfer from one plant to another.
While dill is most popular as a pickling spice, it can deliver a wide array of other applications, not just in culinary, but for your health as well. It is a versatile herb, which is also easy to grow, making it one of the favorites amongst gardening enthusiasts. From the discussions above, we hope that you learned more about the history and applications of dill, as well as how it can be successfully grown at home.