How To: Grow Dill From Seed
Growing Dill Facts
Seven Steps to Growing Dill
Growing dill from seed, in pots and in the ground at home is easy, indoors and outdoors, just follow these steps.
Introduction to Dill
Dill is a plant widely used in pickling and cooking stews and soups. This herb is easy to grow and benefits the garden by attracting wasps and other predatory insects that act as pest control.
Dill also self-seeds, which means that after planting a patch you will have a constant dill supply for years to come. Follow these easy 7 steps to grow this plant in your garden and have a constant supply of tasty dill leaves and seeds.
Dill grows well in moderately rich, but light soil. Sandy loam is the best soil type for dill since it has a loose texture that allows its root system to grow. This soil type also drains water quickly, which is important for this herb.
Heavy clay soil can be amended by using compost – it helps dense soil aerate, and makes it suitable for growing dill. The best acidity for growing this herb is 5.0 to 7.0 pH.
Dill does not tolerate being transplanted; it is advised to sow the seeds directly into the ground. Plant the seeds 1/4-inch-deep into the soil in rows 12 inches apart. The plants themselves must be about 6 inches apart at this stage.
Plant dill in early summer in a place that gets a full day worth of sunlight, and don’t forget to protect it from strong winds. After 10-14 days you will see the seedlings – wait another two weeks and thin them out to be 12-18 inches apart from each other. Then you will have a fully-fledged dill patch!
Plant in stages
You can also try succession planting – add a few seeds each week during the growing season. This way you will grow more of this herb. If you want a more natural approach, plant dill seeds in clumps instead of rows – this will make self-seeding easier.
Dill can also be grown in 12-inch deep containers indoors following the same steps as planting it outside.
Planting Companions for Dill
It is a good idea to plant dill near lettuce, cabbage, onions, and corn because it attracts wasps and ladybugs. These predatory insects feed on caterpillars, which are a common garden pest. However, you should avoid planning this herb near carrots and tomatoes.
Even though dill prefers dry soil, during the growing season its seeds and seedlings need to be watered frequently to germinate properly. The soil must remain evenly moist. Grown plants (that are about 24 inches tall) need 1-2 inches of water a week, so make sure to keep track of rain levels and water the patch during dry seasons.
It is best to let the soil dry in between manual watering, otherwise overwatering may cause the mildew to form on the herb.
Caring for dill is very easy. During the growing season, dress the patch with some compost tea to help the seeds germinate. Herbs like dill usually do not need additional fertilizing, but you still can help grown plants thrive by adding 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed with water or starch to the soil.
Since dill grows tall, you can stake it to protect it from breaking during strong winds, or simply put wind protection around the garden. Keep the weeds out of the dill patches and remove flowers from the herb to prolong the harvest season.
Dill is susceptible to developing root diseases when moisture levels are too high and is sometimes a victim of leaf spot and other fungal diseases. Keep a lookout for the color of the leaves, and, when the trouble comes, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to a gallon of water and add it to the soil, or simply use a fungicide.
If you see any caterpillars or tomato hornworms, pick them off the leaves.
As soon as dill grows 6-inch tall, it is ready to be harvested. To harvest dill leaves, simply cut off the needed amount using garden scissors or pinch them off with your hands. 12 weeks after sprouting, the plant will go into bloom and the seeds will start to turn brown, which means that they too are ready to be harvested.
Hanging to Dill Dry
At this stage do not harvest the leaves. Just cut the whole dill head off and hang it upside down to dry and wait until the seeds fall off onto the tray or inside a bag.
Dill loses taste along with moisture, so store it in a refrigerator wrapped in a damp towel or keeping the stems in water. This way it will be able to stay fresh for a week.
If you want to keep it fresh longer, freeze it in ice cubes and store in the freezer for months.
Of course, you can dry this herb by cutting it off and hanging it in a dry, warm environment, or by placing it on a tray and leaving it for a couple of days. Then it can be stored in an air-tight container as a seasoning alongside with the dried seeds. In this form, dill can be stored for up to three years.
Tasty Treats with Dill
Due to its fresh, sweet and grassy flavor, fresh dill is marvellous with boiled potatoes, stews and soups. Seeds are used as a spice in many recipes. But dill is most popular in making pickles – together with vinegar brine it gives pickled cucumbers (and other vegetables) that distinct taste.
Alongside with tasting good, dill is quite healthy – it is a source of magnesium, calcium, vitamins A and C and can help with a stomach ache. It is also said that chewing on a dill seed with freshen up your breath.
Follow the steps above and you too will have this versatile herb at hand all year round!