Herb Series – Part 6 – Dill

Ok, I’ll be honest here – dill is not one of my most commonly used herbs and I haven’t used it in many Italian dishes.  But… I have liked it with a few fish recipes when eating out that I quite enjoyed.  My goal this spring and summer is to find ways to use it with recipes that I really like and would brag about.  So it’s on my list of Italian herbs I’m  going to grow this year – (keeping my fingers crossed!).

dill-weed
dill-weed

Dill weed = the feathery leaves, while dill seed is from the flowers.  When cooking with dill weed, add it towards the end of the recipe because it loses flavor when exposed to heat.  Dill seed however increases its flavor when heated.

To Grow:

Sunlight:  Full sun – 8 hours direct sunlight.

Type of soil: Dill favors high acidity.   A PH of around 5.5 to 6.5  is good.  Choose a place where you don’t mind it growing again the following year because dill can self-sow by dropping it’s own seeds!  Also keep in mind dill likes a good healthy soil full of organic material.  Make sure your soil has the proper levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Planting by seed: Unlike rosemary, dill is very easy and fast to grow.  Once your soil is fit, plant in early spring or a week before your last frost date.  Space them about 5 inches apart and about 1/2 inch deep in the soil.  If planting in rows, keep the rows about 2 feet apart.  Water well.   Once the dill is growing, thin to about 10 inches apart.  Remember, do not “thin” by pulling up from the roots.  Rather, use a scissors to snip them at the base of the stem.

Germination:  It will take a little more than a week.

Watering:  Water on a regular basis but these do not need a ton of water.   Make sure their is proper water drainage.

Harvest:   Dill can be sown spring, summer and fall.  So you can harvest for a few seasons which is great!  If choosing to do this, (succession planting) then do so every 2 weeks.   You can typically start harvesting the herb after 6 weeks when the plants are about a foot or two high.  Once the head of the flowers are showing, the dill will have lost most of its flavor.

Note:  Dill attracts good types of insects such as butterflies, bees and parasitic wasp.  Parasitic wasps help control caterpillars which can be extremely damaging to anyone’s garden.

There we have it!  The last part of our Italian herb series.   It has been fun to learn as much as I have and now the real test comes… putting it to practice!   For your sake and mine, I’ll be posting all the information from the series into one nice chart.   Let me know how your growing season goes and how you plan on using these herbs in your own Italian recipes!

Liz
www.simpleitaliancooking.com

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