This year if you have been tuning into my Facebook Lives in the Garden ( I usually try for Sunday at 4 pm if you want to tune in ). You might know that I have been growing gherkins and dill this year with degrees of success.
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The Dill, for example, went mad and took over the greenhouse. But it took 2 attempts to get the gherkins to grow, but we finally got some results. So much so that I made my own Gherkins and Dill Pickles this week. They are so tasty that one jar is gone as they are perfect on burgers.
How to Grow Gherkins and Dill
Gherkins are actually part of the cucumber family, and whilst they taste far different they are basically mini-cucumbers and so not unsurprisingly they are grown in the same way as cucumbers.
Caring for your gherkins
Gherkins like a sunny position and will grow their best in full sunlight, although they will still do okay if slightly in the shade. You will need to start them off indoors, ideally in a propagator and then prick them out into 3 or 4-inch pots when they have four leaves on them. Like cucumbers, gherkins are sensitive to overwatering and this can kill them faster than under watering them can.
As the gherkins grow larger they can be planted out in the garden, but only after all risk of frost has gone. The gherkins should be planted out into soil that has had well-rotted manure dug into it. You will need to support them with canes as they grow taller, lightly tying the plants on with string. Do this as soon as possible as they are sensitive plants and do not like being battered by the wind. I grew mine this year in the greenhouse.
Whitefly: Small white flies suck sap and excrete sticky ‘honeydew’ over the plant, encouraging the growth of sooty mould.
Remedy: Use sticky traps in the greenhouse.
Cucumber mosaic virus: Plants and leaves are stunted and deformed, and leaves show distinctive yellow mosaic patterning. Flowering is reduced or non-existent, while any fruit that does appear are small, pitted, hard and inedible.
Remedy: The disease is spread from plant to plant by sap-sucking aphids, so take any necessary measures to control them. Infected plants should be destroyed – wash your hands after touching infected material to avoid contaminating healthy plants.
Powdery Mildew: Appears as a white powdery deposit over the leaf surface and leaves become stunted and shrivel.
Remedy: Keep the soil moist and grow in cooler locations.
Harvesting your gherkins
When the fruits appear they will grow thick and fast. So for best results then pick them when they are no more than 4 inches long. They can be eaten straight away or pickled for use over the year.
How to grow Dill
Dill hates having its roots being disturbed or being transplanted. So sow Dill where you want them, either into pots or the ground where it is to grow.
Start dill off from seed anytime between mid-spring and mid-summer. Prepare the soil well, choosing a fertile, open site in full sun. Sow seeds thinly in shallow, 1cm (½in) deep, rows and cover lightly with soil. Thin seedlings when large enough to handle to 15cm (6in) apart.
Caring for your Dill
Do not allow soil or compost to dry out. Water plants regularly, especially during hot, dry summers, but do not over water.
Support plants with garden canes or twiggy sticks to prevent them toppling over in a gust of wind.
Avoid growing dill near fennel, as the two can cross breed resulting in undesirable seedlings with poor flavour.
Aphids: Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty molds.
Remedy: Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.
Slugs and snails: These feed on the young seedlings and you’ll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.
Remedy: There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape – Read my post on Slug Wars- 10 Ways to fight slugs organically.
Bolting: Plants flower and set seed prematurely.
Remedy: Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.
Harvesting your Dill
Cut leaves as required during spring and summer. They can either be used fresh or frozen and dried for used over winter. Seeds can be gathered when they start to turn brown and ripen in late summer – cut stalks and hang upside down inside a paper bags or place on a sheet of paper until they dry and fall off. Separate them from bits of stalk and store in air tight containers. Seeds can be used ground or whole.
Picking young leaves regularly will help to keep plants productive and delay flowering.
Once you have picked your Gherkins and Dill is is time to make Pickles.
- 1 1/2 cups of White Vinegar
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 3/4 Tsp dill seeds
- 3 cups of chopped dill
- 2lbs gherkins
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup of water
The How to Bit
- Heat up the water, vinegar, salt, sugar and dill seeds until the salt and sugar dissolve
- In a large bowl toss the fresh dill, garlic, and sliced gherkins.
- Pour your pickling liquid over the gherkins so they are completely coated.
- Allow to cool and then store in a Pickle jar
- Will Last for 4 weeks if unopened but use with in 3 days when open
Great on burgers or hot dogs
I hope you enjoy these growing guides the aim is to help anyone feel like they can grow their own organic vegetables. I mean if I can you can. You can find a few more of these guides below.
- Growing Rhubarb in the Organic Garden
- Growing Courgettes – the How and the Why?
- The Great Carrot Experiment
- 10 Tips to Grow Great Strawberries
- Growing Runner Beans
Or you can sign up for my Snapshot and Snippets Newsletter and get my Garden Printables which include Quick Growing Guides, A guide to help you plan your veggie garden and a way to record what seeds you are using.
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