It’s dill pickle season

Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.com and read her travel writings at Ozarks Travel Examiner.

Best known for pickling, dill (Anethum graveolens) is also a good herb for succession planting. If making dill pickles is on your Summer To-Do List, try this variety: dill ‘Dukat’. This variety, which is bred in Denmark, has finely cut leaves that stay fresh longer than other varieties.

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Hanging herb garden hung by the window to grow in Brooklyn.
Photo by Dory Komfeld/Courtesy Flickr

I like this newer variety of dill. It is pretty enough to plant in a sunny flower garden and it’s more compact than taller, older varieties. This is one of the few herbs that I enjoy to use both the ferny leaves and the seeds. Those beautiful lacey leaves are often referred to as dill weed. After this member of the carrot family has bloomed and set seed, cut it and hang it upside down in a paper bag to collect seed.

8 June Caterpillar
While the black swallowtail butterfly is a caterpillar, it feeds on dill.
Photo by Ken Pomerance/Courtesy Flickr

I suggest that you start this plant from seed—it has a long tap root, which means that transplanting it will have limited success. Plant a few seeds every two weeks to extend your season of fresh dill and to grow more than you need to share with local butterflies. Grateful butterflies will enjoy finding this smaller, more compact variety in your garden and caterpillars will appreciate its ready supply. It’s a well known fact that dill (as well as parsley and fennel) will attract butterflies to your garden.

To preserve, freeze your dill plant by cutting the branches into sections short enough to fit into heavy plastic freezer bags. Do not chop the leaves into bits until it is ready to use. This will brighten the fragrance and flavor when you use it in any recipe. Dill will keep in the freezer for about six months.

8 June Dill and Garlic
Use dill and garlic to make homemade pickles.
Photo by Sarah Reid

Use dill for more than pickles and dilly beans. Try a little dill in a favorite biscuit recipe. If you are serving pre-made biscuits, brush a little dill-infused butter on them. Also, I couldn’t make potato salad without dill weed.

This dill seed is easy to find. I bought my seeds at Renee’s Garden, Burpee and Nichols Garden Nursery online catalogs; several other companies also sell dill seed. But if you don’t want to find them on your own, enter my garden giveaway!

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