Dill is a perennial herb that is often used for pickling as well as in soups, dips, salads, and stews. In addition to being delicious, dill is easy to grow either indoors or in a garden, making it a great addition to any herb or vegetable garden. All you need is a sunny location and slightly acidic, well-drained soil, and you'll be enjoying this tangy herb in no time!
EditPlanting Dill Seeds
- Choose a location that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. If you’re not sure about the conditions in your garden, spend a sunny day watching the way the shadows fall throughout the day, then pick the sunniest spot for your dill.
- Dill is self-sowing, which means it produces seeds which will grow new plants, so choose a spot where you’ll want to grow dill for the next several years.
- If you don’t have a spot that gets 6-8 hours of sun each day, plant it in the sunniest spot you have available. Dill can tolerate some shade but it won’t be as bushy.
- Use pH strips to determine the acidity in your soil. Place the pH strip into the soil, then compare it to a color chart to determine the pH level of your soil. Dill grows best in soil that is slightly acidic, so look for a pH that is about 5.8-6.5. Adjust the pH of the soil if you need to.
- Add aged compost to the garden before you plant your dill. Dill grows best in well-drained soil, and adding compost to your garden can help prevent standing water. If your soil isn’t the best quality, though, don’t worry; dill prefers somewhat poor, sandy conditions.
- You can make your own compost from the food scraps your family uses, or you can purchase compost from a co-op or garden shop.
- Sow the seeds directly in the ground from April through May. It’s best to sow plant your dill after all danger of frost has passed. Plant the seeds so that they’re about deep and apart, then rake the soil over the seeds.
- When you plant your dill may need to be adjusted based on your climate and the time of your last spring frost dates.
- Since dill does not transplant well, it’s best to plant the seeds directly into the soil where you want them to grow.
- If you don't have a lot of space, or if you prefer to grow your dill indoors, sow your dill seeds directly into a container that's at least . Place the container where the dill seeds will get 5-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Sow additional crops every 3-4 weeks for a continuous fresh harvest. If you want to continue to enjoy fresh dill all through the summer and fall, you can continue planting new crops every few weeks until about 90 days before the first frost.
- If you don't expect to use a lot of dill at one time, only plant a few seeds at first, then a few more seeds a few weeks later, and so on. This will help ensure you don't end up with a huge crop all at once.
EditCaring for Your Dill Plant
- Allow the soil to almost dry out between waterings. Dill doesn’t like too much water; however, you shouldn’t let the soil get completely dry or the plant could die. Check the soil each day by rubbing a little between your fingers, and add water when it starts to feel dry.
- If you over-water the dill plant, it may turn yellow.
- Thin the seedlings about 2 weeks after they appear in the soil. After you plant the dill, the seedlings will appear after 10-14 days. Another 10-14 days after that, go through the rows of dill and thin out the seedlings so that you only have 1 plant every . Select the strongest-looking seedlings to keep, and pull up any which seem weak or damaged.
- Thinning out your dill seedlings will ensure that the plants have plenty of room to grow.
- You will be able to easily pull up the seedlings by hand.
- Snip off the top of the plant once it reaches . Use a sharp pair of garden shears to cut off the top of the plant. This will help direct the plant's nutrients outwards, rather than upwards, which will encourage the dill to become bushier and to develop more leaves.
- Trimming the top of the plant can help keep the dill from becoming so top-heavy that it can't support its own weight.
- Fertilize the plants once in the late spring. The best fertilizer for dill is a 15-5-10 blend, which has 15% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. Use for every of soil in your garden.
- You can buy 15-5-10 fertilizer at most garden supply stores.
- Pinch off early flowers for prolonged leaf growth. Dill has the best flavor before the plant flowers. Extend the use you’ll get out of the herbs by removing the first batch of flowers that appear.
- You should easily be able to pinch off the delicate flowers by hand, although you can use a small pair of scissors if you prefer.
- Hand-pick pests off of the plant. Dill is resistant to diseases, but it may be attacked by parsley caterpillars and tomato hornworms, both of which are common garden pests. If you see one of these on your dill plants, just remove it by hand.
- These bugs don’t bite, but if you don’t like the idea of touching insects with your bare hands, you may want to wear a pair of gardening gloves.
- Parsley caterpillars are black, yellow, and white, with a combination of spots and stripes, and they may appear to have yellow or orange horns.
- Tomato hornworms are green caterpillars with segmented bodies and feet resembling suction cups.
- Remove any weeds that sprout up. Weeds can take up the available nutrients from the soil that your dill needs to thrive. Each time you water your plants, look for any new weeds which have grown up, and either pull them up by hand or use a weeding tool to remove them.
- Stake the plants if they start to lean or during heavy winds. Dill plants have tall, thin stems that are prone to snapping if they’re not supported. Use twine to tie the stems to a stake if they don’t seem sturdy or if you’re expecting bad weather.
- If you don't have any garden stakes, you can tie the dill to a small twig or stick.
- You may need to add additional ties to the top of the plant as it grows.
- Due to lower levels of light, a container-grown dill plant tends to be taller and more spindly than one grown outdoors, so you may need to support it with a stake.
EditHarvesting and Storing Dill
- Snip fresh dill leaves as needed during the growing season. Dill leaves should be harvested no later than 90 days after planting to get the best flavor, but you can use them as soon as they appear. Anytime you want a little dill in a recipe, just use garden shears to snip the leaves off of the plant, as close to the stem as possible.
- Dill that is grown indoors is usually ready to harvest after about 8 weeks.
- Cut the seed heads 2-3 weeks after they bloom to gather the seeds. If you want to harvest the seeds from your dill, allow the plant to flower, then wait for a few weeks to give the seed heads time to develop. After you cut the seed heads, place the cuttings in paper or plastic bags and allow them to dry for a few weeks. The seeds will fall off when they’re ready to use.
- Dried dill seeds are often used in making pickles as well as to flavor soups and stews.
- Keep fresh leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week. To preserve the flavor of freshly-cut dill leaves, fold them in a damp paper towel, then place the paper towel into a plastic bag. For best results, place the bag in a vegetable crisper in your refrigerator.
- You can also place the fresh leaves in a resealable container in the freezer, where they’ll stay good for up to a year.
- Store dried dill leaves or seeds in an airtight container. Dried herbs, including the seeds, will stay good almost indefinitely, although their flavor will begin to fade over time.
- Good options for storing dried dill include resealable plastic bags or containers or jars with tight-fitting lids.
- Bouquet is a popular dill variety for gardens, while Superdukat is an intensely flavored variety.
- Plant your dill next to cabbage or onions to encourage it to grow, but keep it away from carrots, which will inhibit growth.
EditSources and Citations
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