How to Grow Dill Herbs: Dill is an annual plant that will have to be replanted each year and it will grow to full maturation with feathery green leaves that are able to be used in soups or stews most easily for added flavor. Dill is easy to grow and attracts beneficial insect life to your garden to help other plants around it thrive. Plant dill every few weeks throughout the summer to ensure that you are getting a consistent supply of it if you are using it to pickle other vegetables as it is a powerful pickling agent to other plants. This will ensure that you have plenty of dill to last all season long.
Seed Sowing Depth: Dill herb seeds should be sown at a depth of around 1/4 inch under the soil and each seed should be planted 18 inches apart when planted in the early summer to allow adequate time for each seed to ensure that they are growing to maturation before the freezes hit in the fall.
When to Sow: Dill herb seeds do best when sown in the spring months after the last frosts of winter when temperatures reach 60 to 70 degrees on most days. That means sowing for many people in mid-April to the end of May to ensure that plants are warm enough to keep growing healthfully. Seeds start fresh in the garden in the late spring or early summer months to reach maturation by early fall before frosts return.
Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: Most dill herb plants are best sown outside in direct sunlight in warmer temperatures where the average temperature reaches between 60 and 70 degrees minimum each day and up to 90 degrees on some days (70 is dill's ideal temperature). Warm weather will help your dill flourish and grow the most rapidly.
Plant Height & Width: Each plant will grow 12 to 18" wide and about 24 to 48 inches (2 to 4 feet) in height). Fernleaf varieties of plants will be more compact only growing about 18 to 24 inches at the tallest.
Leafs & Color Description: Dill plants have a green, leafy texture like a large fern and spread out in many directions while growing. Dill plants look like miniature fern trees that end up almost 1.5 feet wide and about 2 to 4 feet tall when they are fully grown.
Growth Habits: Dill plants grow quite rapidly including breaking through the soil a mere 10 to 14 days after they are planted. Dill plants grow well near cabbage or onions. You will want to keep them away from carrots when planting dill in your garden. Keeping plants 12 to 18 inches apart will give each plant adequate room to bush out and grow to full maturity without any issues.
Water your dill plants freely during the growing season as they require quite a modest amount of water to ensure adequate the adequate growth and maturation of the plant. Sow seeds every few weeks to ensure a steady supply of dill that will continually regrow throughout the spring and summer months, especially if you use this as a pickling agent that helps keep canned goods or preservatives fresh.
If the soil is undisturbed throughout the winter you will see more dill plants grow in the same spot next growing season as they are perennial in nature.
General Info on Dill & It's Uses: Dill can be used for its seeds and leafs which provide great mouth-freshening agents due to an agent that is present in them called monoterpenes. Many believe that dill also has anti-cancer benefits to those who consume it on a very regular basis.
Seeds of dill are considered an essential oil and can be collected and stored in airtight containers till the oils are ready to be dispersed into the air around you. One oil comes from the seeds and the other comes from the fresh leaves, both of which are different in benefits and are also different slightly in terms of scent and taste that is derived from each.
Dill is an active ingredient in a variety of foods and also in some medicinal uses as well. Ancient Egyptians also used it back in the day as an ingredient to help to produce cosmetics and perfumes. In ancient Rome, gladiators wore the scent of dill to speed healing after injuries and the oils were believed to help wounds close and heal faster than if nothing was applied to them. Dill was believed to help them return stronger to their next battle.
Today, dill is grown in many parts of the world including across North America and even Northern Europe where it was first grown by monks who brought the dill plant with them to the US when they settled here.
Pests & Diseases: Dill is subject to several various diseases and issues including aphids which are small, fuzzy bugs that will end up on the dill plants and they will be able to leave small yellow or distorted colored spots on the leafs which result in the plant dying over time. They also leave sticky, sugary substances on the leafs that will suffocate and kill of the plant due to a lack of oxygen supply available to the plant. Mold and soot are also encouraged to grow on the plant when these bugs help suffocate the oxygen from the plant. This is similar to the process that happens with many other vegetables including parsnips, celery, and carrots to name a few other plants that grow in a similar fashion.
In cases where the aphids only eat a few leaves or stems they can often be pruned out to save the plant, but in many cases they will overtake the plant killing the entire thing. At that point, there is no choice but to get rid of the plant as it is not able to survive being eaten as the aphids will eat it.
Harvesting & Storage Information: Pick flowers soon after they open to ensure that the highest concentration of essential oils is available for use. Pick the leaves early as possible in the morning and place all stems in water for 2 hours after harvesting. Strip off damaged leafs and remove any lose or errant seeds immediately. Hang the bunches upside down in a cool, dark place to help the plant dry which may take several weeks to complete. Bundle herbs tightly so mold does not grow while they are drying, especially before it is used in any recipes or foods.
Be sure to gently harvest your herbs with pruning scissors to ensure that the leafs are preserved. This is even more important if you plan on storing your dill weed in your fridge or are going freeze, heat, or dry the weed. Once harvested dill will have a shelf-life of about 3 weeks stored at a 32-degree temperature. Tend to leaves carefully as ruined leafs can lead to discoloration which will eventually lead to decay.
The entire seed head can be cut when the seeds are a pale brown color after they have flowered off of the main head of the plant.
Each dill plant will be harvested for seeds several times throughout the growing season and these plants will come back year after year if not disturbed by other human, animal, or plant life throughout the dormant winter season.