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Archive for June, 2013

Using Dill From Your Home Herb Garden

History and Medicinal Uses

Dill grows plentifully in the Mediterranean region and southern parts of Russia, the regions where the plant originated. It has been cultivated since at least the Neolithic period. The stems and flowers have been found in tombs from several civilizations. It has been considered a valuable plant throughout its history. This plant has a large repertoire of medicinal uses, making it a good addition to any herb garden. It is prepared as essential oils, teas, or used in the diet to contribute its medicinal benefits. It has historically been used in European, African, Arabic, Egyptian, and Chinese cultures to help with ailments such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Colic
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney problems
  • Eye disorders
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • Low Energy
  • Jaundice
  • Low milk supply in nursing mothers.

It also exhibits antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

Garden Tips

The dill plant is a relative of coriander and fennel. It is a great plant to have in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. Growing the plant takes a little bit of attention, but it’s not hard. The plant likes loose soil and sunshine. It usually requires minimal water and once it is established, it only needs to be watered when the soil and the environment becomes very dry. It is a delicate plant, so it doesn’t withstand wind very well; keep it in sheltered but sunny spot. It doesn’t compete very well with other plants, so its growing area within your herb garden needs to be free of weeds.

The flavor is better when grown in unfertilized soil. Also, don’t grow it near fennel or coriander, since cross-pollination ruins the flavors of the dill, coriander, and fennel. It takes about 7 days to germinate. The leaves are ready to harvest and use in about 30 days, and it takes about 60 days before the seeds are ready to harvest. They are a great companion for other vegetables and herbs in the garden, as they help to repel aphids. The roots reach fairly deep, so if you want to grow it in an herb garden container, try planting a dwarf variety.

Culinary Uses

The leaves give a fresh, zesty flavor to uncooked and cooked dishes. It is used in a large variety of dishes such as:

  • Soups
  • Fish
  • Rice
  • Pickles
  • Salads
  • Cooked potatoes
  • Salsas
  • Salad dressings
  • Omelet’s
  • Many more things.

A major key to successfully using it to flavor dishes is to use it fresh and not overripe.

Flavoring potatoes with the leaves and seeds is easy and provides a subtle yet incredible flavor.

Dill Boiled Potatoes

1-2 pounds of small red potatoes
Fresh dill leaves and stems
Softened salted butter

After piercing each end of the potatoes with a fork, boil the potatoes (uncut) until they are tender in salt water with cut herb stems and leaves. (Measurements are not exact – use your own judgment) In a separate dish, mix fresh leaves with softened butter. After the potatoes are cooled slightly, they can be cut open and mashed with a fork, with the butter mixture spread throughout. *Serve while potatoes are still hot enough to melt the butter.


This is a tasty, nutritive, and beneficial herb. If you are planning an herb garden, make space for dill plants!

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Mint Is An Easy And Pleasant Addition To Your Home Herb Garden

The mint plant is one of the most often used herbs worldwide. It is valued for its rich and unique scent and taste. It also has a variety of medicinal uses. Besides being a sought-after herb, it has a colorful cultural history.

Cultivating The Mint Plant

The plant is generally easy to cultivate in an herb garden. It grows successfully where the soil is moist. The leaves of most species are fuzzy on the top side, and have jagged edges with small points around the perimeter. The plant spreads easily in sunny or partially shady locations in many climates. In order to keep it contained, it’s a good idea to surround it with a barrier that is at least 10 inches deep before planting it. This helps to prevent it from sending runners outside the area that you want to confine it to. Another option is to grow it in a container.

Mythology And History

In ancient Roman mythology, mint is said to have originated from a nymph character. Minthe was a young and beautiful nymph who became a mistress to Pluto. Pluto’s wife, Persephone became aware of Pluto’s relationship with Minthe, and turned Minthe into a ground-cover plant that would be continually trampled on. Pluto wasn’t able to undo Persephone’s spell, but he was able to put a positive twist on it: Minthe would give off a wonderful smell, which would be more powerful when the leaves were trodden upon.

This herb garden plant has a part in ancient Greek mythology as well. As the story goes, two strangers were traveling through a village. No one in the village offered them food, drink, or lodging, except an elderly couple, whose names were Baucis and Philemon. Before sitting their guests down for a meal, the hospitable couple wiped the table down with mint-scented leaves to freshen and clean it. Later, it was revealed that the two strangers were actually a Hermes and Zeus. Zeus blessed the humble home and mint has been a symbol of hospitality ever since.

Through the ages, the leaves of the plant have been valued very much. In fact, historical literature hints that it may have been used as money in some situations, or had a high trading value.

Medicinal Uses

This plant has several medicinal uses, making it an important addition to an herb garden. It is used in a tea to calm heartburn, reduce flatulence, stimulate appetite, and help with other gastrointestinal maladies. Topical compresses can also be made to reduce pain. Peppermint essential oil is a deep penetrating oil that helps to relax muscles. Because of this, it is sometimes a component of muscle relaxation oils, and has been used to combat menstrual cramps. It has also been used as a natural deterrent of rodents and some insects including fleas and mosquitoes.

Food and Aromas

Because of its strong and pleasing aroma, it is used in air fresheners, lotions, potpourris, and many other fragrant products. The flavor of mint is widely used. It is used in desserts, candies, medicines, toothpastes, gum, and much more. The leaves also give a burst of refreshing flavor in salads and other culinary pieces. With these leaves in your own herb garden, you can use them whenever you need them!

Strawberry Mint Salad

One head of butter lettuce cut up
30-40 fresh whole spearmint leaves
1 avocado cut into small chunks
1 pound fresh strawberries cut up
¾ cup toasted almond slivers
¾ cup feta cheese
Toss with or without dressing (recipe below) and serve.

Dressing (Optional)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh strawberries pureed
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup water
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt

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June 2013