Dill
 
 

Dill - Seed

Anethum graveolens  

Home grown Dill is a must for many dishes!

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an attractive plant as well as a kitchen herb. It is very rewarding to grow due to its lovely colour and fragrance as well as its delicious taste. This herb has fine, needle-like leaves. The flowers and seed umbels are used for pickling onions and gherkins. It is often used with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. Dill is also excellent for garnishing fish. Dill is a good cough remedy and is rich in vitamin C. Herbs are easy to cultivate, either in a special herb garden or in a pot on a patio or decking.
 
 
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These seeds require no prior treatment but soaking for six hours in lukewarm water will encourage germination

Sowing

Sow under glass in March. Sow outdoors April and May.

When outdoors, choose a sunny spot, April and May. Loosen the soil with a fork to at least 30 cm. Draw a furrow 1 cm deep and label the row. Mix the seed with some dry sand and sprinkle it carefully and thinly along the row. Cover with 0.5 cm soil, press carefully down and sprinkle with water. Extra rows, 30 cm apart.

Sow under glass from March. Use a cold frame or possibly a small propagator for indoors - fill trays with fine potting compost, mix the seed with dry sand and sow evenly over the soil. Cover with a shallow layer of soil, max. 0.5cm. Press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Cover with glass and stand at normal room temperature in the light or in the cold frame. Once germinating, remove the glass.

The seeds will germinate in 5-21 days. The seedlings should be thinned out and transplanted (leaving 15 cm between seedlings) as soon as possible. Do not wait too long or you may damage the root. Do not allow the seedlings to dry out.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a lovely, fine leafed annual plant. Dill will flower from June through September with yellowish green flowers. To extend the leaf harvest, prevent flowering, but otherwise, just allow the plant to grow naturally in the border. Dill is one of the Umbelliferae family.

Anethum comes from 'breath out', graveolens means 'strong smelling'. The strong odour keeps greenfly away so it is handy to spread dill around the kitchen garden. We humans happen to like the smell of dill! Dill is a cough suppressant and rich in vitamin C.

Probably originating in Asia, dill spread throughout Southern Europe with the Romans and was later brought to the rest of Europe by monks who knew how to use it.

Dill contains a calming agent, almost sleep inducing. Children were kept quite in church in the old days by having them chew on dill seed. Dill is deliciously aromatic, the seed somewhat peppery and bitter - the leaf does not have this bitterness at all.

Use

Freshly picked dill leaves are great to use when cooking (although for cooking it does lose some of its flavour). Fresh dill is delicious with fish and in fish (and meat) sauces. Often used with fresh cucumber in vinegar but also used for pickling gherkins.

Slightly dampened fresh leaves will stay fine in the fridge for several hours. Dry them slowly in the oven and pulverise in a mortar to store in a herb jar, but dill will then have lost some aroma.

Water extra in periods of drought. Give regular (fortnightly) doses of liquid fertiliser. For more leaves, do not allow the plant to flower (plants in flower do not produce leaf). Dill is a lovely plant and will look good in any border - in which case it is nice to allow the flowers to develop.

Herbs on patio or balcony

These pots can be stood outdoors from mid-May. Acclimatise them by standing them in a shady spot for an hour longer every day. After 5 days they will be ready to stay outdoors. Pot up if necessary into a large pot with good drainage but be very careful of dill's long carroty looking root. Dill will grow to around 1 metre high! Stand it in a sunny, sheltered spot.

For convenience, keep pots near the kitchen door or window and then you will always have fresh herbs to hand.

Harvesting

Dill can be picked about 6-8 weeks after sowing - usually July to November.

Pick the attractive leaf stems individually, being careful to leave the centre of the plant alone. Scissors or a sharp knife is best. If you use thumb and forefinger to pinch them out, be careful not to pull up the whole plant. Do not take too much from one plant. As long as new leaves appear, keep picking and you will be able to keep on picking for months on end from the same plant!


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