The feathery leaves lend a distinctive sweet flavor that transforms any dish it touches.
Credit: Photo: Oxmoor House

SEASON: Summer through fall

CHOOSING: Bunches of feathery dill foliage, also called dill weed, should be bright green and fragrant with no signs of wilting. Dill can look a lot like the darker, glossier fennel foliage, so check carefully to be sure which one you’re buying.

STORING: Wrap fresh dill in a moist paper towel, and place it in a plastic produce bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Dill seeds should be gathered when brown by cutting whole stalks and placing them in an open paper bag. When dry, they’ll fall easily from the stalks and can be stored for use in the kitchen or later in the garden.

GROWING: Dill enjoys cooler weather, so plant in early fall or early spring unless you’re in a locale where summers are mild, in which case you can replant dill monthly for a continuous supply. Choose a sunny, well-drained bed with loose, rich soil. Sow seeds directly into prepared garden beds, or set out young transplants.

Once the plants have grown into rosettes big enough to spare a leaf, cut the large outer leaves as needed, allowing the plant to continue growing from the center. A full-sized leaf looks like a feathery branch measuring 6 to 10 inches long. The blooms will ultimately produce brown, flavorful seeds. If allowed to drop into the garden, the seeds will sprout again, sometimes months later, for an ongoing supply of fresh dill. Like butterflies? Plant extra for the caterpillars to feast upon before they grace your garden as butterflies.