Dill is a herb in the celery family, and its fern-like leaves work well in dips, egg dishes, and soups. Home gardeners also love its light-brown seeds to season fish. Its fragrant heads add an unmistakable flavor—some say a mix of celery and fennel--to pickles and are just the thing to spice up any salad.
A very attractive plant, dill can often be seen as filler in cut flower arrangements. But don’t be fooled by the plant’s delicate appearance. This multi-branched plant, with its finely-divided leaves, is a lot hardier than it looks.
Here are six suggestions for growing dill in your garden:
1. Pick a sunny location
Dill loves full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Prepare the soil by tilling about 12" deep and adding a couple of handfuls of an organic fertilizer. Dill will tolerate some frost, but it's better to wait until around the time of your last expected frost date to plant the seeds.
2. Plant the seeds directly
After the seedbed is prepared, form a row by lightly pressing down the soil with the edge of a square stick. Because the plants can get fairly large, these rows should be 12" apart. To prevent the seeds from clumping together, mix in some dry sand with them so you can distribute them evenly. Cover the seeds with 1/4" to 1/2" of sifted soil.
3. Water your seeds gently
You don't want to wash the seeds away, but it's critical for proper germination that the soil remains moist. After the seedlings appear, water whenever the soil looks dry.
4. Thin the seedlings
If you've had successful germination, you'll want to thin the young plants. This will provide for air circulation and give them room to grow. You can pull any unwanted seedlings when they are around 6" high. Thin them so they are 4" to 8" apart.
5. Dill has no serious pest problems
If you grow dill for its leaves, it will be out of the garden before it can attract any pests. If you allow it to mature to the seed stage, it could be afflicted with tomato hornworms. If you see any, simply handpick them and drop them into a bucket of soapy water to destroy them.
6. Tips for harvesting dill
You can harvest dill leaves at any time and use them fresh or keep them in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. You can also dry or freeze them to use later. Harvest dill seeds as soon as they begin to turn brown.