One of the most popular and useful kitchen herbs to grow in the home garden is dill. Both the plant and its seeds are useful for a variety of kitchen uses and recipes. Growing the herb is easy as well!
As with any successful planting, start with good soil. Most small kitchen herb plants do best in potting soil or in soil formulated for flowers. This goes especially for plants you plan to cultivate in pots, planters, or indoors. Good soil is key.
If planting out of doors, wait until the last frost is gone before planting. Dill needs partial sun, but in warmer climates, full sun could damage the plant. Six hours a day is best, so many gardeners plant them on the north side of their gardens or the east side of their homes. Keep in mind dill will self seed easily, so use this to your gardening advantage when planning your herb garden.
If planting indoors, of course, you can plant at any time without restriction. Just be sure your dill plants get plenty of sunlight or have artificial light. Indoor plants will likely need support as well – either a trellis or hoop.
Plant the seeds about half an inch into the soil to get faster germination and growth. Sunlight will hasten the process.
If you planted seeds close together, you’ll need to begin thinning them and allow for about 9 inches or so between plants. Water regularly, but don’t soak the soil too often or the plant roots will not be able to breathe. It doesn’t take long for the dill to be vibrant and healthy.
Dill plants will continue growing until they brown and will then cease producing leaves and flowers. You can trim them back and they’ll begin growing again (if indoors or in warm climes) or you can let them stay dormant through winter.
Keeping them fertilized is a good idea. The best way is to add manure, compost, etc. in the late fall to allow it to overwinter. Indoor plants can use fertilizer spikes, compost tea, etc.
In about four to six weeks from the plant’s emergence, it will begin to flower. The leaves, flowers and seeds can all be used for flavoring. You can harvest the flowers and leaves as you wish or let the plant brown and harvest the seeds. The seeds are ready for harvest about two to three weeks after the dill plant flowers.
Leaves can be used fresh or dried. If you are drying the dill leaves, be sure to harvest the leaves before they flower. To collect dill seeds, simply cut the flowered stems and hang upside down and allow seeds to drop on a paper or a bag. If you harvest the seeds after the plant has browned while in the ground, you can cut the stems and shake the seeds out into a paper bag for collection.
Dill is a particularly pest-prone plant, but its short growing period often means it doesn’t see much damage from those pests. Horn worms, parsley worms, and crickets and caterpillars are often attracted to and found around dill plants. Many of these pests are also attracted to tomato plants.
This attraction of pests that often target tomatoes, makes dill a favorite companion for them. Because it’s so easy to grow, dill is often planted near and around tomato plants to attract these pests and act as a decoy. They are also often planted near bird baths and areas where birds congregate to provide extra incentive (through these pests, which birds eat) for birds to hang around the garden or yard.