Dill, scientifically known as Anethum graveolens, is a versatile herb that adds a unique flavor to various dishes. Growing dill in your garden can be both rewarding and aesthetically pleasing, but it requires specific conditions to thrive.
Dill is grown for two primary reasons. As a plant, ‘dill’ usually references the flower head and seeds, while ‘dill weed’ describes the dark blue-green leaves. The stems of dill are hollow, upright, and green, with long, spindle-shaped roots. The plant is adorned with bright yellow umbels, making it an attractive addition to any herb garden.
When planning your dill harvest, consider whether you want to use fresh dill in recipes, preserve leaves (dill weed), or preserve seed. Dill weed, known for its characteristic aroma, indicates the quality of the fresh herb. You can start using dill weed once the fern-like leaves develop, which is about eight weeks after planting. Cut the leaves close to the stem for use.
Propagation and Growing Conditions:
Dill thrives in full sun and prefers temperatures averaging between 60–64°F (16–18°C). Ideal soil conditions include well-draining sandy loam, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.6 and 6.5. It’s essential to plant dill in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
Despite its adaptability, dill does not transplant easily. It’s best to sow seeds directly into the ground where the plants are intended to grow. You can also grow dill indoors, provided it gets sufficient light. The seeds should be sown at a 12″ spacing, 1/4 inch deep. While dill can be planted in spring, the best planting time is from November through December. If allowed to go to seed, dill will re-seed itself annually. It typically takes about 65 days for dill to mature fully.
Dill as an Ornamental Plant:
Apart from its culinary uses, dill is also an attractive plant for ornamental plantings. This annual plant, belonging to the parsley family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae), is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe, southern Russia, central, and southern Asia. The yellow flowers develop into fruiting umbels, and the seeds are intermediate between those of parsnip and carrot.
Preserving and Pickling with Dill:
When preserving dill, watch out for off-odors or mushiness in pickles. If absent, the pickles are safe to eat. It’s recommended to use pickling salt and avoid regular table salt, which may contain fillers causing cloudiness. Hard water might also lead to cloudiness in pickles.
Overall, growing dill in your garden can be a straightforward and fulfilling endeavor, provided the right conditions and care are given. For more detailed information, you can explore resources from various universities and gardening programs:
Learn more about growing dill in your garden from Utah State University Extension.
The UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma provides insights on harvesting and preserving dill.
For understanding the diseases and pests that affect dill, visit PlantVillage.
The University of Minnesota Extension offers guidance on growing dill in home gardens.
Remember, while growing dill can be relatively easy, the success of your harvest may depend on various factors, including climate, soil quality, and care.