Tag Archives: dill

Canada Day musings

Boy, did I drop the ball last year with the blog. But instead of beating myself up about it, I will jump back into it with a challenge for myself: 31 days of blogging for the month of July. Let’s start with some 2016 highlights:

Community garden

The highlight of last season was the arrival of a swallowtail caterpillar.

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Beautiful! And so smooth!

I’m glad he was a pretty one and not one of the ones that look like snakes (creepy!).

I had several volunteer (did not plant) dill plants last year. It’s not one of my favorite herbs (although the best pho I’ve ever had had dill in it), but it does a lot of good in the garden as a companion plant, attracting beneficial insects and discouraging harmful ones. I purposely planted one this year in hopes of attracting the caterpillar, but no luck yet. Sadly it hasn’t done much to discourage cabbage worms.

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A discouraging sight on my collard greens. Had to pull them and my kale.

There was a new pest in the garden last year: mealy bugs. I’ve encountered them before. They decimated my succulents at work. But this was the first time I’d seen them in the garden. I got to see them up close.

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Fuzzy mealy bug

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You can see his snout much clearer here. I could feel him sucking in the air across my palm!

The dill were covered so I just pulled them. By then the swallowtail was nowhere to be seen. I’d like to think he became a butterfly rather than a bird’s meal. Someone told me if I left a stick near the dill, it would pupate there. I’ve also heard it could have pupated on the side of my raised bed. Wish I’d seen that. I did see the caterpillar in the instar stage so it would have been cool to see the full cycle.

In addition to the mealy bugs, I was sad to find a cabbage worm on my dill. Once I checked the life cycle to ensure it wasn’t a swallowtail caterpillar, it went right in the trash.

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Cabbage worm, with evidence of mealy bug cottony webs.

Even when I thought I was bringing some nice dill in to work for a colleague, it turned out to be infested with aphids. Trashed again.

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Not a nice gift after all!

Despite not really being able to use a lot of the dill last year. I think it’s worth growing it for the beneficial predators it attracts and the beautiful swallowtail caterpillar.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saving seeds

Last year I started saving seeds for the first time. I got the general idea of seed saving from You Grow Girl or Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail. I decided on sunflower seeds for a reason that now escapes me… I read about how to do it online and watched some videos on Youtube. You can either cut off the sunflower head and dry it or dry it on the stem. The cheese cloth is to keep birds or other critters from getting at it. I’ve also read you can use a paper bag but this must be for smaller flower heads.

Collecting seeds

I picked out the seeds from the head and dried them indoors on a hard surface. I kept them in a plastic bag all year, which is not good, but it surely didn’t affect sunflower production this year. In fact, the only difference this year is that the sunflowers were poly-headed (my scientific term), specifically with one large head and several small ones, whereas last year they were mono-headed. I still have so many sunflower seeds left that I don’t need to do it this year.

Sunflowers with one large head and many small heads

This year, I want to be more active with seed collection because it’s easy and it’s cost effective (no need to buy seeds next year). I decided to start with dill because the seeds caught my eye.

Dill seeds

I couldn’t remember exactly how I was supposed to do it (because the books are at the library), but I do remember fromĀ  Gayla’s books that you’re supposed to cut the stem below the seeds and put it upside down in a paper bag. The seeds will drop to the bottom once they’re dry. I started this last week:

Dill drying in a paper bag

To be sure I was doing it right, I searched the net and came across the Deep Roots at Home blog. What caught my eye was the suggestion to add holes to the bag for circulation! So I poked some holes in it with a safety pin. Hope that’s good enough. The blogpost also shows that you can have several stems in one bag. Right now I have 3 bags going with one stem each because I wanted to be sure they got enough air to dry properly. Totally unnecessary.

I know for sure that You Grow Girl had a template for seed packets. There are many seed packet templates online. I chose one at Carolyn’s Stamp Store because I liked the simple design and clear instructions for putting it together.

Folded template

I didn’t have a glue stick so I taped it together, put my sunflower seeds in and made a simple label.

Homemade sunflower seed package

You Grow Girl suggested fancy designs but I decided to make it simple. I don’t consider myself to be crafty, but I do have crafty aspirations!

Homemade vs professional

I came across this Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook online. I love that it tells you how long you can save your seeds. For example, it says dill seeds will last 3 years or more and sunflower seeds (between squash and Swiss chard on the list; there is no direct link) will last 5 years or more if stored properly.

Can’t wait to package my dill!

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