Saturday, 6 February 2016

All Things Dill, Kale and Cinnamon


Did you know that the earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago?
What’s even more interesting is that Gladiators were fed meals covered with dill because it was hoped that the herb would give them valour and courage.
There are traditional uses for dill the herb, what about the seed?
Dill seeds were called “meetinghouse seeds” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or kids quiet. The seeds were also chewed in order to freshen the breath and quiet noisy stomachs.
Dill seed. photo
Dill seed is referred to as a spice and goes very well with coriander. Dill seed is used in Moroccan cooking as well as Vietnamese. Of course those that pickle their cucumber will be using some form of Dill.
Fresh green Dill is the herb and has a slightly anise flavour that goes with smoked salmon, potato salad and much more.
Let's find out more. I'm talking with herb expert Ian Hemphill

Dill likes to be planted in cool weather.
In warm winter areas that don't experience a hard frost, you can plant dill in autumn or winter.
In cooler areas, plant dill a week or two before your last hard frost.
After the first sowing, plant again every 10 days or so if you need lots of dill for a continuous crop.
For balcony gardeners or gardeners with potted herb garden, when growing in pots, use a deep one so the long tap root has somewhere to go.
Remember that you will eventually have a plant that is about a metre tall so you might want to stake your plant.
The seeds are used in pickling and can also improve the taste of roasts, stews and vegetables.
Try grinding the seeds to use as a salt substitute. Both the flowering heads and seeds are used in flavoured vinegars and oils.
If you have a herb garden, send in a photo or drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


This attractive edible originated in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean region, where it’s been cultivated for over 4,000 years.
Did you know that Kale is the ancestor to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mustard and yes in the Brassica Family?
They are in effect, primitive cabbages that have been kept through thousands of years.
Although more highly developed forms, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and head cabbage, have been produced in the last two thousand years or so, kale has persisted, because it’s so good as garden vegetables.
The Latin name Brassica oleracea variety acephala, the last term meaning "without a head.
Kale is also known as borecole, which in Dutch means ‘farmer’s cabbage’.
Another interesting fact is that in nineteenth century Scotland kail was used as a generic term for 'dinner' and all kitchens featured a kail-pot for cooking.
I’ve seen this veggie grown in gardens in the cooler months but are people actually eating it?
Some gardeners would say that it’s mainly used for show in the garden, displacing other green decorations, thanks to the plant’s wilt resistance.

ornamental Kale

There are two types of Kale that you can grow in the garden.
Flowering kale, is closely related plant, but smaller in size with tight rosettes on the ground rather than upright, leafy growth.
I’ve seen it used as a bedding plant. Yes you can eat those too!
The second type of Kale and the one I’m concentrating on today is a green leafy plant that is great added to or substituted for cabbage.
Common Kale

When To Plant Kale
Kale can be planted all year round in most districts but some people prefer to avoid the cabbage white butterfly and plant it in Autumn.
The best times for planting in Arid areas are from March until July, in temperate and sub-tropical climates from now until June, and Kale is grown from February to March in cool districts; also it’s apparently winter hardy and it’s flavour is improved by frost.
How does that work? Well a frost or even several frosts, will help break down starches into sugars making the Kale a whole lot sweeter.
The leaves take on a strong flavour if stored longer than two weeks in the fridge, so picking the leaves only as you need them.
By stripping the lower leaves from the base of the plant you will encourage new growth and get a much longer harvest.
Kale is easy to grow and a fast grower as well taking only 7-9 weeks from seed sowing until harvesting.
Kale likes soil temperatures of between 8°C and 30°C., full sun and a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0
If the soil is too acidic, add lime.
If the soil isn’t already rich, dig in compost or well-rotted manure.
How To Grow It
Sow Kale seeds direct into the garden or they don’t mind being transplanted so you can start them off in punnets if you like.
Sow the seeds about 1cm deep and 30cm or a ruler’s length apart.
Three or four seeds can be planted together and thinned out at the two leaf stage.
Look after young plants by watering during dry patches and keep weeded.
TIP: Tread around the base of the stem every so often to prevent the larger varieties swaying in the breeze.
During the winter months, apply liquid fertiliser from your worm farm or you can buy fish emulsion which is great too!
Remove yellowing leaves, "earth up" the stems and stake tall varieties if exposed Did you know that kale can handle exposed, slightly shady plots.
Kale – Is rarely bothered by the dreaded banes of the brassica family like snails and slugs so that’s a plus.
You can get any of the seed varieties from any garden shops.
When growing Kale use lots of compost and water regularly.
Kale and lettuce photo M Cannon
So What Do You Do With Kale?
Eat the young leaves chopped in salads, grind the old leaves for juice or feed to chooks. Tip: If you have chooks they prefer kale leaves to anything else!
Cook as you would cook cabbage - stewed, boiled, braised, blanched -but remember that kale takes a little longer to soften.
Try these varieties- Lacinato a Heirloom dating back prior to 1800 in Italy.
Red Russian Kale
 Also known as 'Black Cabbage', 'Tuscany' or 'Cavalero de Nero'. Old, rustic Italian variety. Plant forms no central head but rather grows upwards like a palm tree - pick leaves as required. Leaves are narrow, crinkled, dark green, highly nutritious & will continue to grow even when covered with snow. Attractive variety. 55 days( around 8 weeks)
Red Russian, another heirloom originating from Siberia. Red frilly, oak-shaped, bitter-free leaves with purple veins. Hardy variety. Leaves deepen to dark green upon cooking. 55 days.
 Or Vates Blue Curled - Vigorous plant to 40cm high with heavily curled, blue-green leaves. Rich in vitamins. Withstands cold weather. Leaves will not yellow from frost or heat. 55 days
Traditional purple leafed curly kale works well in a container, as well as in the border.
Green-leafed forms are often grown in the vegetable garden, but they can also be used in flower beds.

Why is it good for you?
Kale is actually near the top of the list in terms of nutritional value, Kale has heaps of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, large amounts of vitamins A, C and E, and heavy doses of calcium, potassium and Kale is particularly rich in iron.
Hint:Tuscan kale is traditionally used in minestrone.
But you don’t have to munch on the plant to gain benefit from it: Purple leafed kales like ‘Redbor’ or ‘Red Russian’ look great in flower beds, where they’re used as a winter annual along with pansies and dianthus.
Find out more health benefits


TATTON PARK  is a RHS garden – historic estate with 50 acres (about 20 ha) of landscaped gardens in Cheshire in the UK. Renowned for its glasshouses, the Japanese Garden, and the extensive Kitchen Gardens
Tatton Park UK. photo M. Cannon
Have you ever travelled a long way to see some great gardens?
Just by chance have you stumbled on one of the world’s best for that particular style?
Seeing lots of gardens up close and personal is something we gardeners like to do and should do.
Plus you learn so much about planting styles that you can reflect on and adapt to your own garden.
Here is one such inspirational garden.
Listen to this…I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid

The Japanese Garden., was almost certainly the result of Alan de Tatton’s visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.
He was inspired - decided to introduce a Japanese garden to Tatton.  
The Shinto Shrine and artefacts in the garden are all reputed to have been brought from Japan, with construction of the garden by a team of Japanese workmen.
Tatton Park photo M. Cannon

It’s considered to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.
The garden is in the style of the tea garden, and doesn’t reflect the strict discipline of other Japanese styles, e.g. the dry garden or the stroll garden. In this form of art, the Japanese garden portrays many scenes that harmonise with nature. The important elements of plants, stones and rocks are carefully placed to produce a natural balance.
This Japanese inspirational garden doesn’t sound too hard to emulate does it?
Some rocks, some maples of different colours and leaf shapes, a tea house, and a bit of clipped Buxus or Azaleas, and hey presto, transformation!


Backhousia myrtifolia Cinnamon Myrtle.

Cinnamon Myrtle photo M Cannon
The leaves have a pleasant spicy cinnamon-like aroma and flavour and can be used as a spice in various dishes.
The cream coloured flowers cover the tree from top to toe and are star shaped followed by starry-like capsules.
Only growing to 7 metres eventually, it’s a tree that should be grown more in the home garden.

Let’s find out more. I'm talking with the Plant Panel, Karen Smith from and Jeremy Critchley owner of

Backhousia myrtifolia is a small rainforest tree species grows in subtropical rainforests of Eastern Australia.  

Myrtifolia from Latin myrtus a myrtle or myrtle-tree and folium a leaf referring to the resemblance of the leaves to that of the European myrtle.

Cinnamon Myrtle makes a calming medicinal tea and can be added to curries stews and rice dishes, especially steamed rice.
It can be also used in biscuits sweets and in fact anywhere where Cinnamon is used.
CINNAMON MYRTLE, Backhousia myrtifolia is also known as carrol, carrol ironwood, neverbreak, ironwood or grey myrtle and can be found in the rainforests of subtropical Australia from Bega in south coast NSW to Fraser Island off Queensland.

Small tree to 7m tall, leaves are simple, opposite and entire with a fine point and between 5-7cm long

Prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy), well-drained, moist soils and requires well-drained soil in full, or nearly-full sun. Does not like shade.

The foliage when crushed smells a little like cinnamon, or bubblegum.
Flowers are cream/white cymes bunched at branchlet ends from November-January.
Fruit is a small brown capsule ripe March-April.
If you have any questions about Cinnamon Myrtle, or have some information to share, why not write in to



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