Dill Seed Saving

Now that the holidays are over, there's more time to devote to some indoor garden tasks that have been put off. Soon that will include seed starting, but for now, there are still seeds to be separated from the dried plants that they are still stuck to. Back in December I finished that process with the black beans, and this week I moved on to dill:

Over the course of the summer as the dill seed heads matured, I would pinch them off of their stems and throw them into a paper bag on the porch to dry. After sitting there for three or four months, they are definitely fully cured now:

Many of the seeds already had fallen off their stems, but plenty more seedheads were still intact. I found the most efficient way to deal with shaking dill seeds loose is to pick up just a single head:

Then squeeze the little branches together farther up the stem, so the seeds form a tight cluster:

With your other hand, you can roll those seeds between your thumb and fingers until they fall off. I did mine over a tray to keep them corralled. They are very lightweight, and any little breeze will send them flying. 

As I finally reached the bottom of the bag this afternoon (thanks to a self-declared snow day), I poured all the remaining loose seeds out of the bag and onto the tray as well. And then I noticed some movement:

So somehow this caterpillar survived the cold out on the porch and is (I assume) living off our bag full of dill seed. Maybe it was dormant in egg form and then hatched within the past couple days when the bag was brought into the warmth of the house? Anyway, he went out into the snow after I took this picture. 

Although now that I'm getting a closer look at this picture, I think I see another, smaller, caterpillar in the upper left corner that I did not notice in person. Looks like I'll have to dump out the jar to check for more.

And speaking of the jar, it's about a 1 1/2 cups of dill seed. That's a lot of seed. We'll use some for planting throughout the next growing season, but that won't make much of a dent. We'll also use several spoonfuls for pickling, but I daresay this is enough seed for the next three years for those uses. So if you'd like some organically grown, open-pollinated dill seed, let me know!


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