In 2007 I bought Mammoth Dill seeds and scattered them in a three-foot space in my garden. The plants thrived and three years later, the great grandchildren of those seeds emerged with weeds in early spring. I’ve had “volunteer” dill plants every growing season since that fateful first planting.
Dill is one of the most distinctive herbs you’re likely to grow. Many herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, fennel, sage, and cilantro contribute to flavor combinations more often than they stand on their own. Consider packaged seasoning mixes labeled Italian Seasoning and Poultry Seasoning—both distinctive for the combinations of herbs they contain. Cilantro often punctuates heavily seasoned Mexican dishes and Indian curries.
It’s less common for a recipe to combine dill with other herbs. Rather, potato salad, salad dressings, marinades, and soups feature dill; instead of blending, it becomes a prominent flavor in the dishes it seasons.
Dill is one of the easiest food plants you might ever try to grow. In fact, it’s so hardy and eager that after the first season you plant it, it may appear year after year in your garden and you won’t need to plant it again.
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Maturing dill plants resemble nothing else I grow in my home kitchen garden. To me their stems look vaguely similar to bamboo while their leaves are more like ferns. A Mammoth Dill plant can grow four or five feet tall.
A dill plant puts up one main flower head comprised of dozens of tiny florets. Given time, the plant may produce all kinds of additional flower heads. Many dill pickle recipes call for you to add a full head to each pickle jar—you can use a head in full bloom, one that is just budding, or one at any stage in between.
When a dill plant finishes putting out seed heads, the plant dies and the seeds dry. This head has already dropped quite a few seeds and the ones remaining would be adequate to start a small dill plantation. The dozen or so other heads on the plant also dropped seeds. Dill seeds sprout when they’re damp; they don’t care if there’s soil covering them. They don’t wait for warm weather. They are among the first things to sprout (along with weeds) in spring. If you’re just starting to garden and you want to build confidence, plant dill. You can grow that.
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