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We have many herbs that can be grown through the summer, so why not grow a culinary herb in your garden or on your patio?
Many herbs are well adapted to container gardening because of their small size. The containers can be placed on patios, porches or balconies, and herbs with a cascading habit can be grown in hanging baskets. There are herbs that can be grown in full sun, partial shade or shade.
They are easy to grow and delicious when added to a meal.
One of the most common and popular herbs is dill, Anethum graveolens. Dill is typically grown for its flavorful leaves and seeds that are used in both hot and cold dishes and for making dill pickles.
It is an annual, which means it will grow, flower, set seed and die within one year. It is in the same plant family as parsley, carrots, celery and fennel.
Dill grows best when planted in a soil that has been amended with organic matter, or in a fast-draining potting mix. Our naturally sandy soil will not produce the healthiest plants because sand does not have any water- or nutrient-holding capacity.
A location that receives full sun, at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, will grow the fullest plants, although if you only have a shady spot, you can still grow dill. Typically, dill plants grow tall, but there are a few varieties available that produce small plants that are perfect for growing in containers.
Check out this list of some of the dill varieties available.
- Long Island Mammoth, also referred to as Mammoth dill, is the largest growing dill and can grow to 48 inches tall. This variety is a good one for Florida gardens, including butterfly gardens.
- Elephant dill is known for its aromatic foliage and late flowering. It grows tall, so it produces a lot of foliage and flowers.
- Dukat has the sweetest flavor and the highest essential oil content. This dill will grow to about 3 feet tall. This is an heirloom variety, so the seeds can be saved to start new plants for the next year.
- Bouquet grows 30 to 36 inches tall. If you are interested in making pickles, this may be the variety for you. Bouquet is especially good because of its early and abundant seed production. This is another heirloom variety that often reseeds itself without any effort on your part.
- Delikat is known for its dense growth habit, producing high yields of flavorful leaves. The plants reach a height of only 10 to 24 inches, which makes it a great choice for growing in containers.
- Fernleaf only reaches a height of 18 inches and is another good choice for growing in containers. This cultivar is also slow to bolt, or go to seed, so the production of foliage lasts longer.
- Grandma Einck’s grows to 24 inches, produces a strong aroma, and large flower heads. This is also an heirloom variety that will self-seed. Germination can be erratic, so don’t be impatient or quick to judge the seeds as non-viable.
In addition to being tasty, dill is also a host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly. If you see caterpillars on your dill, buy more plants so there is enough food for both you and the caterpillars.
The Black Swallowtail butterflies will also lay their eggs on fennel and parsley plants since they are all members of the same plant family.
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Dill leaves can be used fresh or dried, along with the dried seeds, in soups, stews, sauces, fish, eggs, pickles, salads and vegetables. When using fresh dill in cooked dishes, add it at the very end, shortly before the meal is served.
Fresh dill leaves are also commonly added to soft cheeses, sandwiches or tossed into salads.
Harvesting dill is as easy as cutting off the leaves. You can dry the dill foliage, also called dill weed, or freeze it. Chop up what you need and then return the rest to the freezer.
If you are interested in collecting the seeds, they can be harvested green once they are fully developed, to use in making pickles or allowed to mature and turn brown so you can grow new plants from seed.
To collect the mature seeds, cut the brown inflorescence off, shake the seeds out over a large bowl or in a large brown bag and store them in airtight containers.
It doesn’t matter if you have a large yard or a small patio, everyone can grow dill.
Why not grow some dill this summer? After all, nothing tastes better than harvesting fresh herbs to add to your meal, right before you eat.
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