The much-maligned dandelion is hated by gardeners because of its success. Its long tap root and highly efficient seed-dispersal system makes it one of the most prolific perennials and, as such, it is considered a weed.
But before you pull out all the dandelions in your garden, bear in mind that, apart from the fact that it is actually quite pretty, it is a useful herb as well.
Its nickname in Scotland is 'pee the bed' and this is because it is a very good diuretic. It has an all over cleansing effect on the body and gently stimulates the liver.
Dandelion is also said to help relieve inflamed joints but use it in moderation as it is a laxative as well.
You can blanch the leaves to make it more palatable by placing a pot over the emerging leaves. Young dandelion leaves and blanched leaves can be added to salads though it is a bit bitter. You can also make your salads look more colourful by tearing off some of the petals and using them as decoration.
The roots of dandelions can be dried and used as a coffee substitute.
Dill is an annual herb with fine, feathery leaves and yellow flowers. Sow dill near cabbage, celery and tomatoes as it makes a good companion plant, repelling the cabbage moth.
Dill has a good reputation for soothing collicky babies and can soothe stomach upsets.
In the kitchen the leaves are often used as an accompaniment to fish and vegetables but it is the seeds that are commonly used in pickles.