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Delicious Dill

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Although we�re on the edge of summer, it�s not too late to plant some dill in your edible garden. Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual that grows quickly from seed to five feet tall with fine green foliage and spicy seeds. In addition to the heirloom herb your grandmother enjoyed, here are three varieties for you to look for.

Bouquet dill is a dwarf version of heirloom dill. It grows only to about three feet, blooms early, and produces large seed heads. It�s grown more for seed than leaf production.

Fernleaf dill is a variety that�s slow to bolt and set seed. Cooks like it because of its abundant dark green foliage. It reaches only eighteen inches tall, a more compact growing habit than other dills, making it a good choice for container gardening.

Dukat is a more tender dill that grows to about two feet tall. It is grown for its blue green foliage which can be included in salads. This variety of dill is said to have a more mellow taste than other dills.

Some gardeners might be wary of growing dill. It reseeds with the slightest wind. Wherever you sow it, be prepared to have it growing there for years to come. If you are growing dill just for leaf or bulb production, clip off the flower heads when they appear to forestall reseeding.

In the vegetable garden, grow dill where you�d put cabbage, onions, or lettuce. Their nectar is a sure draw for beneficial insects that will promote pollination. Dill needs to be weeded regularly.

Most dill varieties are unhappy in shallow containers. Plant them in pots at least ten inches deep. Although you can start the seeds in pots before setting out in your garden, it�s much simpler to sow them in place. They will germinate easily and you won�t have the hassle of transplanting a deep-rooted herb.

Disease is rarely a problem with dill. The biggest danger is from aphids which attack the seed heads. A few applications of insecticidal soap should keep this under control.

Dill leaf is best harvested just before use. Although leaf clippings can be refrigerated, they�ll lose flavor quickly. The leaves can be dried by laying them on a flat surface. Once they become brittle, store in an airtight container. Avoid using heat to speed up the drying process as the leaves will lose too much flavor.

The seeds should be harvested as soon as they turn brown. Clip the seed heads and place them upside down in a brown paper bag. Allow the seeds to ripen for about a week before removing them from the seed head and storing in an airtight jar.