My next herb to talk about is Fennel or Foeniculum vulgare. Did you notice how much it looks like dill? I often have people ask me if I'm growing dill in my herb garden when it is in fact fennel. The fennel leaves are quite a bit thinner than dill, so you should be able to recognize it. Fennel and dill have been known to cross-pollinate so it's best not to plant them near each other.
Plant fennel seeds in the fall for easy and early germination as soon as spring arrives. If you missed out on the fall planting, you can also sow seeds in the spring. Fennel requires a rich, well-drained soil and does not like clay. Keep your seeds (which are actually the fruit of the plant) moist for two weeks until the leaves appear, but avoid overwatering. You might want to plant it at the back of your garden; it can grow up to 5 feet tall.
Fennel is another herb that is good for indigestion, heartburn, and bloating in adults, and colic in babies. Use a bag of cool fennel tea for sore and tired eyes.
The root and seeds can both be used for medicinal and culinary uses, but I find the seeds easy to harvest and store. I always have a jar of fennel seeds handy in my kitchen; I love their licorice, anise-like flavor. Use the chopped leaves in a salad or the seeds in the dressing. Sprinkle ground seeds over grilled meats. Add crushed seeds to breads.
Chewing fennel seeds will depress your appetite, so it works well for a weight loss aid. Drinking brewed fennel tea made from lightly crushed seeds is also a diuretic, and because of this, can be helpful in hypertension (of course, be sure to consult your physician on this one.)
Stay tuned to see what's coming next in Easy Medicinal Herbs.
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