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Growing Herbs

Finocchio, Fennel Herbs Are Different



Fennel (Fœniculum officinale, All.), a biennial or perennial herb, generally considered a native of southern Europe, though common on all Mediterranean shores. The old Latin name  derived from fœnum or hay. It has spread with civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world, upon dry soils near the sea coast and upon river banks.

Sweet Fennel
Sweet Fennel

It seems to be partial to limestone soils, such as the chalky lands of England and the shelly formation of Bermuda. In this latter community I have seen it thriving upon cliffs where there seemed to be only a pinch of soil, and where the rock was so dry and porous that it would crumble to coarse dust when crushed in the hand. The plant was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots.

Read more: Finocchio, Fennel Herbs Are Different

 

Dill Was Known As The Pickle Herb In England

 

Dill -  The Pickle Herb


Dill Herb, of pickle fame.


Dill (Anethum graveolens, Linn.), a hardy annual, native of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, smaller than common fennel, which it somewhat resembles both in appearance and in the flavor of the green parts, which are, however, less agreeable.

In ancient times it was grown in Palestine. The word translated, "anise" in Matthew xxiii, 23, is said to have been "dill" in the original Greek. It was well known in Pliny's time, and is often discussed by writers in the middle ages. According to American writings, it has been grown in this country for more than 100 years and has become spontaneous in many places.

Description.—Ordinarily the plants grow 2 to 2½ feet tall. The glaucous, smooth, hollow, branching stems bear very threadlike leaves and in midsummer compound umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose small petals are rolled inward. Very flat, pungent, bitter seeds are freely produced, and unless gathered early are sure to stock the garden with volunteer seedlings for the following year. Under fair storage conditions, the seeds continue viable for three years. They are rather light; a quart of them weighs about 11 ounces, and an ounce is said to contain over 25,000 seeds.

Cultivation.—Where dill has not already been grown seed may be sown in early spring, preferably in a warm sandy soil, where the plants are to remain. Any well-drained soil will do. The drills should be 1 foot apart, the seeds scattered thinly and covered very shallow; a bed 12 feet square should supply abundance of seed for any ordinary family. To sow this area ¼ to ½ ounce of seed is ample. For field use the rows may be 15 inches apart and the seed sown more thinly. It should not be covered much more than ¼ inch. Some growers favor fall sowing, because they claim the seed is more likely to germinate than in the spring, and also to produce better plants than spring-sown seed.

At all times the plants must be kept free from weeds and the soil loose and open. When three or four weeks old the seedlings are thinned to 9 inches, or even a foot apart. As soon as the seed is ripe, shortly after midsummer, it must be gathered with the least possible shaking and handling, so as to prevent loss. It is well to place the stems as cut directly in a tight-bottomed cart or a wheelbarrow, with a canvas receptacle for the purpose, and to haul direct to the shade where drying is to occur. A good place for this is a barn, upon the floor of which a large canvas sheet is spread, and where a free circulation of air can be secured.

Uses.—The French use dill for flavoring preserves, cakes and pastry. For these purposes it is of too strong and pronounced a character to be relished by American palates. The seeds perhaps more often appear in soups, sauces and stews, but even here they are relished more by our European residents than by native Americans. Probably they are most used in pickles, especially in preserving cucumbers according to German recipes. Thousands of barrels of such pickles are sold annually, more especially in the larger cities and to the poorer people; but as this pickle is procurable at all delicatessen stores, it has gained great popularity among even the well-to-do. An oil is distilled from the seeds and used in perfuming soap. The young leaves are said to be used in pickles, soups and sauces, and even in salads. For the last purpose they are rather strong to suit most people, and for the others the seeds are far more popular.

Dill vinegar is a popular household condiment. It is made by soaking the seed in good vinegar for a few days before using. The quantity of ingredients to use is immaterial. Only a certain amount of the flavor can be dissolved by the vinegar, and as few samples of vinegar are alike, the quantities both to mix and of the decoction to use must be left to the housewife. This may be said, however, that after one lot of seed has been treated the vinegar may be poured off and the seeds steeped a second time to get a weaker infusion. The two infusions may then be mixed and kept in a dark cupboard for use as needed.

  Heritage herb used for many baking, pickles, and in salads.



   

Chive Herb Plants For Walkway Entrances


Garlic rows with the edible garlic flower in bloom
 

  Chives (Allium Schœnoprasum, Linn.), a bulbous, onion-like perennial belonging to the Liliaceæ. Naturally the plants form thick tufts of abundant, hollow, grasslike leaves from their little oval bulbs and mat of fibrous roots. The short flower stems bear terminal clusters of generally sterile flowers. Hence the plants are propagated by planting the individual bulbs or by division of clumps in early spring. Frequently chives are planted in flower borders as an edging, for which purpose the compact growth and dainty flowers particularly recommend them. They should not be allowed to grow in the same place more than three years.  Chives are perennials and make wonderful sidewalk plants to line entrances or paths in the garden.

Read more: Chive Herb Plants For Walkway Entrances

   

Chervil, The French Parsley



Chervil, French Parsley

    Chervil (Scandix Cerefolium, Linn.), a southern Europe annual, with stems about 18 inches tall and bearing few divided leaves composed of oval, much-cut leaflets. The small white flowers, borne in umbels, are followed by long, pointed, black seeds with a conspicuous furrow from end to end. These seeds, which retain their germinability about three years, but are rather difficult to keep, may be sown where the plants are to stay, at any season, about eight weeks before a crop is desired; cultivation is like that of parsley. During summer and in warm climates, cool, shady situations should bechosen, otherwise any situation and soil are suitable. The leaves, which are highly aromatic, are used, especially in France and England, for seasoning and for mixed salads. Chervil is rarely used alone, but is the chief ingredient in what the French call fines herbes, a mixture which finds its way into a host of culinary concoctions. The best variety is the Curled, which, though it has the same flavor as the plain, is a prettier garnish.




From the Heritage Herbs Collection by M.G. Kains, American Agriculturist, 1912.
   

Catnip or Cat Mint - Either Way The Cats Love It



Catnip, or cat mint (Nepeta cataria, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order Labiatæ. The popular name is in allusion to the attraction the plant has for cats. They not only eat it, but rub themselves upon it purring with delight. The generic name is derived from the Etrurian city Neptic, in the neighborhood of which various species of the genus formerly became prominent.

Like several of its relatives catnip is a well-known weed. It has become naturalized in America, and is most frequently observed in dry, waste places, especially in the East, though it is also often found in gardens and around dwellings throughout the United States and Canada.

Description.—Its erect, square, branching stems, from 18 to 36 inches tall, bear notched oval or heartshaped leaves, whitish below, and during late summer terminal clusters of white flowers in small heads, far apart below, but crowded close above. The fruits are small, brown, ovoid, smooth and with three clearly defined angles. An ounce contains about 3,400 seeds. Viability lasts for five years.

Catnip, Pussy's Delight
Catnip, Pussy's Delight

Cultivation.Ordinary attention on any fairly dry soil. The seed need only be sown in autumn or spring where the plants are to remain or in a nursery bed for subsequent transplanting. If to be kept in a garden bed they should stand 18 to 24 inches apart each way. Nothing is needful except to keep down weeds in order to have them succeed for several years on the same spot.

Uses.—The most important use of the plant is as a bee forage; for this purpose waste places are often planted to catnip. As a condiment the leaves were formerly in popular use, especially in the form of sauces; but milder flavors are now more highly esteemed. Still, the French use catnip to a considerable extent. Like many of its relatives, catnip was a popular medicinal remedy for many fleshly ills; now it is practically relegated to domestic medicine. Even in this it is a moribund remedy for infant flatulence, and is clung to only by unlettered nurses of a passing generation.



From the Heritage Herbs Collection by M.G. Kains, American Agriculturist, 1912.


   

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