Too much dill?

Last week we did a social post about having too much self-seeded dill and asked for suggestions for how to use a lot of dill. We had a great response and wanted to share some of the suggestions on the blog so these great ideas don’t fade away into the social media ether.

  • You can make borscht or dill pickle chip dip. You can hang it in bunches in a cool location and let it dry. Then you have dried dill all year. Or you can layer it between parchment paper and freeze it, and you’ll have pseudo-fresh dill all the time (Megan)
  • I just wash and dry on paper towel overnight , chop it into small pieces and freeze it. Add to anything you are cooking, tastes like fresh dill (Angie)
  • Dill pesto is delicious! I use almonds rather than pine nuts. You can freeze it and it gives you that taste of summer. Also delicious melted into a cream soup in the winter (Pam)
  • Cooked carrots are very good with a dusting of fresh chopped dill (Joyce)
  • I have just frozen fresh dill wrapped in paper towel,, plastic wrap and tinfoil. It goes limp, of course, but still works in soups and dips. It’s so much better than dried dill (Marilyn)
  • Koorko smytani. Chicken in cream sauce. Slow roast chicken pieces (not skinless or deboned) with loads of green onions and dill all over them, salt and cracked pepper. There’s a lot of chicken fat floating on top of the liquid so I roast it several hours before serving, remove the chicken from the juice and refrigerate them separately. That gives the fat time to harden and you can remove most of it; but not all of it. Put it all back in the oven and add farmer’s cream or whipping cream and citric acid and roast it at a low temperature for another half hour. I haven’t made this in years. You gotta have a lot of people there for dinner (Stephanie)
  • Roll up bunches in plastic film , put in plastic bag and freeze – use straight from freezer. It will taste very fresh and is much better than dried (Marj)
  • Garlic dill dip (Robin)
  • I freeze mine in olive oil in ice cube trays. Great all winter (Twyla)
  • Cucumber salad or dip! You can never add too much dill (Brett)

That particular day I used my giant handful of dill to make a dill and chive sour cream for baked potatoes, and dill fish packets – top fish fillets with mayo, lemon zest, as much dill as you can stand, and salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and bake until the fish is 135. I’ve clearly got some work to do on my food photography but it was very tasty and easy – one of my favourite ways to use a lot of dill!

In my opinion dill, chives (or green onions), and sour cream are made for each other. I love this as a dressing on a salad made simply from cucumbers and fresh garden lettuce – and don’t skimp on the salt!

If you have more ideas or suggestions for how to use a lot of dill, leave a comment on this post!

The Mint Conundrum

For all its easy-growing glory, mint is a complicated plant from an identification perspective.

Mint is the typical gateway herb for new gardeners. It is incredibly easy to grow, smells glorious, and has many culinary uses. Of course, it is also an AGGRESSIVE spreader, so we beg you, grow it in a pot. We love mint and like most, have been growing it for our entire gardening lives.

But there is something you may have noticed if you like to grow a wide variety of mints – some of them are really hard to distinguish from others. Most specifically we are talking about mojito mint and spearmint, and peppermint and chocolate mint.

This article from Richters Herbs (THE premier herb people in Canada, perhaps North America), describes some of the problems with all the different strains of mint out there. Essentially, if you want to grow a “true” type of mint, you had better get a plant from a reputable supplier and vegetatively propagate it. They claim that mint grown from seed is unlikely to have the expected essential oil content, and may even smell “rank.”

We have grown what we believed to be spearmint from three different sources: a local Saskatoon greenhouse, seeds from OSC, and supposed “true” spearmint plants we ordered from Richters. We also have been propagating mojito mint, purchased from the same local greenhouse as the spearmint. Our findings:

  • The mojito and spearmint from the local greenhouse are indistinguishable
  • The “true” spearmint from Richters looks and smells very different from the locally purchased spearmint (and is a much more tender plant)
  • The spearmint from OSC seed is similar to the true spearmint from Richters (as expected because it is the same botanical species); it is not strongly fragrant but definitely does not smell bad or rank
One of these things is not like the others…
Left – mojito mint from local greenhouse. Middle – seeded spearmint. Right – spearmint from local greenhouse. Very obvious that the seeded spearmint is a different plant altogether!

If we consider Richters to be our trusted source on botanically identifying mint, mojito mint and true spearmint should definitely not be nearly identical plants, as they are botanically not even the same species (mojito mint is Mentha x villosa and spearmint is Mentha spicata). However, we suspect that when you buy either spearmint or mojito mint at most greenhouses, you are actually buying “improved spearmint” (Mentha spicata ‘Kentucky Colonel’), supposedly a hybrid of spearmint and apple mint (though confusion abounds because the botanical name does not suggest a hybrid), which Richters claims is what was widely used in mojitos prior to their obtaining “true” mojito mint from Cuba. Our best guess is that the mojito mint (and greenhouse-originated spearmint) we are selling is, botanically, improved spearmint. Which is for all intents and purposes an excellent mint to grow! It’s just not “true” spearmint.

Peppermint and chocolate mint are thankfully a little less complicated. They are botanically the exact same plant (Mentha x piperita piperita), and neither will grow true from seed because peppermint is a sterile hybrid (that’s what the “x” in the botanical name means). Chocolate mint continues to be propagated from a strain that at one point, a plant breeder believed to smell chocolatey. The real question is – does it? Or is it just our minds playing tricks because we so badly want chocolate mint? We purchased our peppermint from a local greenhouse, and our chocolate mint from Richters, who claim that theirs is the OG chocolate mint (although even they are a bit wary of the chocolate claims). To be honest, we aren’t sure we can tell the difference, but perhaps our senses of smell are always on overload due to being constantly bombarded with the fragrances of 40+ other herbs.

So, there you have our hard-hitting investigative report on mint. Now you probably want to know what this means for you as customers. You need to be comfortable with your purchase and we don’t want you to think we are trying to pass off identical plants as two distinct types of mint – it’s important for us to be transparent about it.

On the one hand, in our opinion it’s kind of impossible to ever have too much mint, because as we said earlier – we love mint! It’s an awesome plant to grow. It smells great, is attractive, and grows pretty much anywhere. We certainly won’t stop you from buying multiple mint plants to compare and contrast and do some scientific research of your own (let us know how many mojitos one needs to drink to obtain the correct sample size).

On the other hand, if you are concerned or simply interested to know the exact origin of the plant you’re getting, please ask us. If you want a specific type of spearmint when purchasing, let us know – we can tell the difference!

Even if you’re not concerned and just want to get your hands on any mint you can, we think this is super interesting (and honestly, also frustrating as producers who are committed to proper plant identification) and wanted to share it. Regardless of what type of mint you buy from us you can rest assured it will be healthy and grown with care, ready to provide you with many happy hours of summer plant therapy! And remember – grow it in a pot!

Regardless of what mint this was botanically, it was delicious steeped with a sprig of lavender!

A backyard greenhouse for around $350!

One of the challenges of starting a business from scratch is keeping costs down when we don’t have any revenue to pay for our supplies and infrastructure. Kaila and Jason took on the challenge with gusto and designed a reasonably-priced backyard hoop house where a lot of our plants are going to live this summer before they go home with you all!

This is a long post, meant for those who may be interested in building their own structure, so we won’t be offended if you don’t stick around to the end! The executive summary for the TL;DR crowd is:

  • build a wood frame for the base and the door frame
  • use poly piping to create a reinforced hoop structure, attached to the frame using rigid straps and to the reinforcements using zip ties
  • cover the structure lengthwise with vapour barrier using staples and tape to secure
  • make clamps with your extra tubing to attach the plastic to the ends of the structure (stapled and taped at the bottom)
  • use adhesive zipper for a very simple door

Our goal was to create a temporary greenhouse structure that worked within our space on a tight budget. We settled on a size of 8’X20’ (160 sq/ft) with a max height of approximately 6’6”.   Many iterations of this structure were involved in the planning phases. We chose this hybrid design after watching MANY YouTube videos (links of few faves here here and here).  Most of the supplies were ordered online from Home Depot. (Our materials list is long and detailed, but please email us if you’d like a copy! We are more than happy to share.) I (Kaila) will describe the basics of how we went about this in two afternoons with two people, who have basic carpentry skills combined with a can-do attitude – which means you definitely are qualified to try this too!!


Create a rectangular base using mending plates and securing the corners square using your desired dimensions. Ours was 20’x 10’ mended, and 8’ on the ends.  Pre-drill all holes and secure with screws.

Measure out and attach rigid straps for the tubing to slide into on the inside of your frame closer to the top of the material. We planned for 8 hoops. We doubled up some of the rigid straps nears the edges but this many not have been necessary. If you double up, you will need more materials than we used.

Cut poly pipe tubing to length. We used a length of 17’, marking the centre and 24” in either direction for ease of attaching strapping later. (As a little cheat, mark your long side of the greenhouse with your necessary measurements (17’, 10’6”, 8’6”, 6’6”) and use as a giant ruler to cut all 8 pieces quickly and consistently.)

Slide tubing into rigid straps and secure with a screw (2.5”) affixed with a wide washer or flat head screw.

Cut 3 pieces of tubing the full length of the greenhouse and mark your hoop with increments. These will be your cross supports. 

Zip-tie the cross supports at the centre and 24” markings on your hoops. Use two zip ties in an X pattern, making sure the smooth parts are where the plastic will attach along the top to avoid abrasion points. We recommend 12”-14” ties here, anything less than a foot will be too short.

Measure the height of the top of the hoop at the back (non-door side) of the structure and cut a 2×4” to the height. Use a hole saw to create a groove for the tubing to fit into along the ridgeline. Secure the board upright at a 90 degree angle to the base using 3” wood screws. We used the cutoffs to create lateral supports. Secure the tubing to the upright with a long screw and a washer. The structure got MUCH more secure at this point!

Make a door frame with 2×4”. We used a 32” opening. Cut the groove for the tubing and take a jig saw and round out the corners along your hoop structure shape. Secure the tubing to the frame with screws and washers.

This was enough for one day! We took a break to wait for warmer weather…


Lots of patience and imagination was required on Day 2!

Lay out the vapour barrier and cut two sheets 6” longer than the length of the greenhouse. (We used a roll of 708″x102″. If you are using double-wide vapour barrier, you will only need one sheet, and will not need to do the mending described below.)

Mend the two sheets carefully together on the long edge with a strip of gorilla tape, using care not to have any bubbles or creases in the tape and that the plastic is evenly secured together. Affix a 12” piece crosswise on either edge for added support. Add another strip of tape on either side of the first with a 1/3 overlap. Flip the entire covering over and repeat the tape mending on reverse side.

I lined up the sheet with the length of the greenhouse at the base and proceeded to staple the sheet flush every 6” or so with the top of the 2×4” base on the outer edge. Tap any staples that didn’t get flush with a hammer . Following the staples along the long edge, I affixed a long strip of tuck tape over the stapled area and onto the wood to seal the staples and add stability.

I pulled the sheet over the body of the structure to the other long side (leaving the ends open), pulled it taught but not overly tight so there was still plenty of movement in the poly. Repeat the staple and tape process on this side.

This is where your creativity and patience will pay off. Take the plastic and wind a good fit around the end hoops securing temporarily with strip of tuck tape. Once the main body sheet has both ends secured to the end hoops, its time to cut the end pieces.

The ends were cut at 8’6″ off the roll. Line up your plastic sheet at the base with equal part overlap on either end. In my case it was about 3”. Repeat the bottom staple tape process.

At this point you want to make your tube clamps to secure the ends in place. I used about 50. To make these, cut 4-6” sections of leftover tubing, then take a ~½” length wise slice out of it. These will clamp onto the edges of the tubing and hold your plastic in place. Play around with a variety of lengths, having an assortment helps to fit around the various parts of the curve.

Pull the centre of the end plastic to the top centre of the hoop. There may be a helpful fold line in the plastic to get you lined up. Leave extra plastic at the inside (top) of the greenhouse with about 2” wrapping on the outside hoop, then pop on a clamp. Work your way fitting and clamping the plastic all the way down on one side, go back to the top/centre, then down the other side. You should have extra plastic on the inside of the greenhouse that you can cut away later.

Repeat on the door side, leaving extra length at the bottom this time to ensure you can get a good close on the door. On this side wall we added some extra staples along the outer edges of the door where the zippers would go. Use them sparingly, you can add more later once the zip is in and you are sure on the positioning.

Stick adhesive zippers along 2X4 door frame, leaving extra at the top and making sure the zipper is the right direction and goes right to the bottom. Open zippers and cut plastic to create door. Add a few staples to get a better fit. Add something to hold your door open when you need to go in and out or when its too hot, such as ties or Velcro.

There you have it! Once again, do not hesitate to ask us for the materials list or for clarification on any of these steps if you decide to build a similar structure of your own!

Happy Spring! (& Summer Sales Plan)

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for checking out our site. It has been really exciting to slowly build our social media following over the past couple weeks, and we hope as we get closer to launching we’ll be able to have some giveaways to help get the word out.

Starting even a really small business like Bergamot & Basil from scratch has been more work than we possibly imagined, which sounds cliche but it’s true! Major props to those who do this all on their own. Kaila and I and both of our husbands have been putting in a ton of work beyond our day jobs over the past several months, and continually realizing that we need to pare back on a lot of our ideas to make sure that we do our core activity, growing and selling herbs, as well as we can.

Initially we had planned to have our own online store, but this is one of the items we’ve had to cut to ensure we don’t spread ourselves too thin. We are awaiting a couple of Public Health approvals from two of our planned sales venues, which we are told will go through, but tentatively we can share our sales plan for the summer.

Here is where you can expect to find us this summer:

Weekends of May 8 and May 15

We will not be doing in-person sales these weekends. Pending approval we will be selling a few different six-packs of herbs through The Little Market Box and the Virtual Saskatoon Farmers’ Market for weekend pickup or delivery. Six-packs will be available through both of these online markets for the rest of our growing season as well.

Weekends of May 22-June 5

We are CONFIRMED to have a stall at the Street Stall Saturdays Outdoor Market for these three Saturdays. SSS is operated by Ideas Inc. and occurs at Market Square downtown. We will be selling individual 2.5″ and 4″ plants at this location.

Weekends of June 12-26 and possibly July 3

Pending approval we will be at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Koyl Avenue for at least three Saturdays, with a possible end of season sale on July 3 depending on how much inventory we have left. We will be selling individual 2.5″ and 4″ plants at this location.

Free Herbs?!

We are partnering with the Saskatoon Horticultural Society to provide a special benefit to SHS members at our in-person market locations. Members who show their card will receive a free basil plant with the purchase of any nine items. Check out the SHS membership page for information about how to join and receive other amazing benefits from a long list of other horticultural businesses in the Saskatoon area!

Chives on an outdoor field trip – because it’s spring!

We are so excited to get going and start meeting you at the markets! If you aren’t already, please follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with our progress and learn about the plants we’re growing for you!

We’re getting ready!

Hi, Saskatoon! Hi, internet!

We are hard at work planning our grow season, preparing seeds and seedlings, designing and building our urban gardens, and everything else required to provide you a great selection of culinary herbs and pollinator-friendly plants this spring and summer.

Check back for updates to see what we’re growing, when plants where will be ready, and where they’ll be available.

We’ll also be building some recipes and ideas (some #inspo!) for what you can do with your herbs over this growing season.

Thanks for your interest and we hope to see you soon!