Dill

2010 Herb of the Year

  

Dill, Anethum graveolens, has been named the 2010 Herb of the Year by the Herb Society of America. Like many of our favorite herbs, dill is native to the Mediterranean, as well as Russia and parts of western Africa. This easy-to-grow plant is best known for flavoring dill pickles. While we'll sing the praises of a well-made dill spear, don't stop there. Dill is a delightfully kitchen-friendly herb!

Dill
Yes, dill seed makes great pickles - and they are one of the few sugar free types easily made at home. That makes them a great favorite of a certain diabetic we know... Dill seed is also great on fish, especially salmon. It has quite a strong flavor and stands up well in cooking.

Dill leaves are know as dill weed, a truly terrible name for something as versatile and yummy as this! Dill weed is a treasure in the herb garden, as it is a quick and simple addition to so many summer dishes. Cut a handful, rinse it off and use scissors or kitchen shears to mince it into green salads, potato salad, egg salad, macaroni salad - well you get the picture! When you use it in cooked dishes (try some in mac and cheese!), make sure to add it at the very end of cooking. Dill weed is milder in flavor than dill seed, so if you like a strong flavor, use it lavishly.

There are two types of dill plants. Mammoth dill is best known. It grows quite tall (5 feet or more) and goes to seed easily. This is what you want to grow if you want a lot of dill seed.

Dill

Fernleaf dill and Bouquet dill are grown for their foliage. Fernleaf grows to 18-24 inches and is small enough to use in a large container, where its ferny foliage is lovely as well as delicious. Bouquet is a bit larger at around 3 feet tall. Both will go to seed eventually, but will produce leaves far longer than Mammoth will.


Dill is really easy to grow. You can buy seed and plant it directly in your garden, but we prefer to give ours a head start in the greenhouse so we can enjoy it as early as possible. If you are direct seeding, be sure to wait until the ground has warmed up and the threat of frost has passed. That's usually late May or early June here in Maine.

Dill does well in full sun, but filtered afternoon shade is not a problem. Fertilize the ground with good quality compost before planting; this is all the fertilizer your dill will need. Water needs are the same as for most herbs - an inch of water a week is plenty.

If you grow Mammoth dill, you can establish a perennial dill patch that can last for years. Simply locate your dill in a spot that can remain undisturbed and let some of the seed fall on the ground and stay there. Voila! It will reseed and you will have dill seedlings growing there next year. Don't plan on them coming up in neat rows, though!

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Hummingbird Farm
Brian and Cindy Tibbetts
202 Bean Street  Turner, Maine 04282
(207) 224-8220   hummingbird@megalink.net
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