It is impossible to speak for long about any group of plants without appreciating their unique seasonality. In colder eastern and northern climates there seems to be a thorough understanding of what grows in spring, versus summer, versus fall, versus winter.
Anise, dill and fennel are also allied plants. Anise and dill are famous for their licorice flavored foliage and are a fine addition to salads, used in soups or as a seasoning for several fish dishes. The feathery leaves of dill can be used fresh or dried and are used in salads, vegetable dishes, soups or as an addition to many different meat dishes.
After harvesting foliage from anise, dill or fennel during the winter and spring, the plants can be allowed to flower and set seed. The seeds of all three of these herbs add a second season to the plants and can be easily harvested and stored. Used whole or ground the seeds add zest to breads, cheese and salad dressings. Fennel seed is a common ingredient in Italian sausages and for flavoring of pork.
If you’ve tried growing cilantro, chervil, parsley, anise, dill or fennel in the past without success, don’t blame the herb. Perhaps you had invited these plants that prefer cool winter weather, to a sizzling hot summer party. Try again, but this time the invitation will be to a cool, winter get together, with mittens and scarves. I think they’ll have a great time.
Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar.
Questions from Readers November 21st.
Question: I read your article last month about using corn gluten meal as an organic and safe way to prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Of course, I procrastinated and now I’m seeing thousands of little seeds sprouting everywhere. Is it too late?
Emily, Costa Mesa
Answer: Yes and no. Corn gluten meal does need to be spread before weed seeds germinate. But, there are still plenty more weeds seeds that still haven’t sprouted, so even applying it now will have some benefit. What I might suggest is to work through the garden first with a long handle how or a shallow cultivator, knocking down as many of the young seedlings as possible. Then sprinkle on the corn gluten meal – and don’t procrastinate this time. Five pounds will cover 250 square feet and prevent a lot of work later on..