One-Block Feast: Spring Garden Plan
(Page 10 of 14)
Big, umbrella-like clusters of yellow flowers and soft, feathery foliage make dill as pretty as a spring wildflower. The blooms that poke above the stately 3- to 5-foot-tall plant provide nectar for butterflies and beneficial insects. But the most compelling reason to grow dill is the pungent aroma of its seeds and leaves, which can flavor so many dishes. You can use the seeds in pickling and in vinegar and the leaves to flavor sauces and soups.
Best Site: Full sun and well-drained soil; protect from the wind.
Days to Harvest: 40 to 50 days to harvest leaves, 85 to 105 days to harvest seed.
Planting and Care: In early spring, sow seeds directly in the ground, 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in rows 6 inches apart. (Once the plants’ deep tap roots get growing, transplanting will be difficult.) Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart when they are 2 to 3 inches tall. Water regularly—about once a week during dry periods. If you don’t want plants to re-sow (which they will, vigorously), shear off the heads before they set seed, or watch the seeds carefully and harvest them promptly (see below).
How to Harvest: Snip off leaves as you need them. To collect the seeds, tie small paper bags or tightly woven cheesecloth (double or triple layers if necessary) over the seedheads when the seeds begin to turn brown, and leave the bags in place for a week or so. Then snip the stems below the bags, bring the heads into the kitchen, and shake the seeds out onto a tray. Store them in airtight containers.
Seed Source: Renee’s Garden.
Not a true bean, the fava is actually a giant vetch (an ancient type of legume). Unlike true beans, it is cold hardy, which means gardeners in mild climates can plant it in the fall for harvest in late winter or early spring (as we did).
As long as the weather stays cool, the plants can last into midspring. You can cook and eat the immature pods like edible-pod peas, or let the pods hang on the plant to ripen into dry shelling beans. One caveat: Some people of Mediterranean, Asian, and African ancestry have an enzyme deficiency that can cause severe reactions to these beans and their pollen.
Best Site: A mild, sunny location with loose, fast-draining soil.
Days to Harvest: 65 days from seed.
Planting and Care: Sow seeds as soon as the soil is warm. Heavy leaves must push through the soil, so be sure the soil is loose and open. For a bush type of fava, which is what we grew, plant seeds 1 inch deep and 1 to 3 inches apart, allowing 24 to 36 inches between rows. Moisten the soil thoroughly before planting, then do not water again until seedlings have emerged. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Fertilize the soil after the plants are in active growth and again when the pods start to form, working a complete fertilizer into the soil along the row.
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