How to Harvest and Preserve Dill for Year-Round Use?

how to harvest dill

The tender, fern-like leaves of dill almost beg to be touched. If you want to cook them, trim the fresh dill foliage and gather the seeds for pickling. Or you can chop the feathery leaves and yellow umbels for attractive bouquets of homegrown flowers.

In addition, black swallowtail caterpillars love to feed on it. Its tiny yellow blooms are great at drawing in a wide range of pollinators. Dill grows as an annual for summer harvests in USDA Hardiness Zones 2–8. In other parts, it may self-seed and is hardy in the winter in Zones 9–11.

Here is everything you need to know about how to harvest dill. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide.

How to Harvest Dill?

Harvesting Dill

Fresh dill clips easily, but it soon starts to droop. Sounds familiar to Cilantro, right? Its flower umbels may look lovely in a mixed bouquet, but after a few hours, don’t be shocked if they start to wilt. When harvesting dill for recipes, use it as soon as possible because its flavor starts to fade after a few days.

Cut off the flower stalks of dill after the yellow blooms have faded but before the seeds start to ripen and come away from the umbel. Cover the entire flower head with a small paper bag that has a few tiny holes for ventilation.

Hang the plant upside down in a cool, dry place. Watch for the seeds to fall and collect them in the bag’s bottom. The seeds should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark area in an airtight glass container.

When and How to Plant Dill?

When and How to Plant Dill

Dill grows best outside and is simple to start from seed. Plant the seeds directly into the ground, 1/4 inch deep and spaced 1 to 2 inches apart, in the springtime following the last frost. If you want the dill plants to be able to self-sow, plant the seeds in tufts so the seeds can fall and sprout the following year.

Or you can plant them in rows spaced about 6 inches apart. You might want to think about succession planting if you want a reliable supply of dill. During the growing season, start by planting a small number of seeds from the packet at a time and then a few more every week.

Typically, seeds take 7 to 14 days to germinate. Also, dill can be grown from transplants grown in nurseries planted in the ground or in containers in spring. You can plant dill outside a few weeks before the last predicted spring frost because it can withstand light frost.

To achieve lush growth and stop crowded seedlings from producing seed heads, which stops the production of foliage, thinning is essential. Every 12 to 24 inches, reduce the number of seedlings to just the strongest one once they reach 3 or 4 inches in height.

As they get bigger, some start to flop. Plants can be kept upright by placing a stake or a sturdy twig in the ground close to the plant’s base. To loosely secure the plant to the stake, use garden twine.

You can start the dill seeds indoors four to six weeks prior to the last frost. And you can move the seedlings to the ground once the risk of frost has passed. Transplanting mature dill does not work well, so plant your seedlings where they will be able to grow and thrive.

Where To Plant Dill?

Where To Plant Dill

Dill should be planted in a spot with well-drained soil and at least 6 to 8 hours of daily full, direct sunlight. Particularly for cottage gardens, the delicate foliage gives garden beds and borders textural interest. Choose a location for your dill that will shield it from the wind if possible.

Just like spinach, high winds can easily damage its stalks if you do not stake the dill. You can plant dill’s fragrant foliage in perennial garden container plantings. Or you can plant them alongside other herbs or vegetables in a traditional kitchen garden.

In an edible garden, cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage are good companion plants for dill. Dill draws beneficial insects like ladybugs and bees and drives away common brassica pests like loopers and cabbage worms.

But avoid planting dill close to carrots. Carrots can be stunted by dill, and because they are closely related, dill can cross-pollinate with carrots to produce inferior hybrid plants. Planting dill close to tomatoes is also not recommended.

Mature dill will probably stunt your tomatoes’ growth, even though some studies have indicated that tomatoes and dill can be beneficial companions when they are young.

How to Propagate Dill?

How to Propagate Dill

Seed is the most effective method of dill propagation. Cuttings can also propagate Dill, though this isn’t as dependable.

Seed: Direct sow the dill seeds in early spring at a depth of 1/4 inch in a prepared garden bed. Dill does not tolerate transplanting well. Thin the seedlings so they are 12–24 inches apart when they are 3–4 inches tall.

Cuttings: Using shears or scissors, cut off the stem with at least 3 to 4 inches of new growth to take a dill cutting. Place the cutting in a water-filled container, making sure to remove any leaves below the water’s surface, and allow the roots to grow for two to three weeks.

Fertilizer and rooting hormones are not required. Plant the dill in a container or on the ground once the roots are 2 to 3 inches long.

Is Dill a Type of Weed?

No, I am not talking about WEED weed (read: marijuana). Although dill isn’t technically a weed, some individuals and spice companies call the plant dill weed, possibly due to its feathery leaves. Dill weed is a dried or fresh foliage plant. Flower umbels are yellow and used to make dill seeds.

How Should Dill Be Stored for Optimal Quality?

How Should Dill Be Stored for Optimal Quality

You can keep fresh dill in the fridge by wrapping its leaves in a moist paper towel. Or you can tuck its stems into a container of water. Fresh dill can be frozen by submerging it in water in ice cube trays. Place the cubes in cooked dishes that have enough moisture to withstand them.

Dill seeds and leaves can also be easily dried for later use, though the flavor is a lot more muted.

Water and Soil

Sow dill in soil that is moist but well-drained. If there is a lot of clay in your soil, add organic matter to the top few inches to aid in drainage. If you have trouble with poor soil drainage, plant this herb in raised beds or containers. Growing dill requires proper irrigation.

As the seeds germinate, keep the soil evenly moist. Dill plants require one to two inches of rain or extra water each week once they begin to grow.

Humidity and Temperature

Dill tolerates temperatures as low as 25ºF, but 70ºF is the ideal temperature for it. Dill often bolts, sending up flower stalks to set seeds when temperatures rise. This annual herb dies after it flowers and produces seeds. Get rid of the flowers to prolong the plant’s growing season.

Apply Fertilizer

While most herbs, including dill, don’t require extra fertilizer, you can give them once or twice during the growing season by applying a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. When planting, either mix a liquid fertilizer with water or etch a time-release fertilizer into the soil.

Refer to the product label for instructions on how much to use.

Trimming

Dill should be pruned early in the growing season to prevent limb bending. Cut off the top leaves of the plant to promote more growth of the lower leaves. Food preparation and cooking can be done with anything that has been pruned.

Repotting and Potting

You can grow dill in pots on a sunny balcony or deck, even if you don’t have an outdoor garden. Due to the deep taproot that dill plants have, choose a container that is at least 12 inches deep. Because clay and terracotta pots don’t retain as much moisture as plastic or glazed ceramic pots.

They are ideal for growing dill. Make sure the container you select has good drainage and is big enough to allow you to space your plants 12 to 24 inches apart. It is best to start over in a new, larger container. Especially if your dill plant outgrows its current one because it does not take well to transplant.

If the temperature where you are planting is not too high, you can keep planting seeds into the summer.

Types of Dill

Types of Dill

Dills can be of many types with each of their distinct looks and flavors. Here are the three different types of dill you can grow in your kitchen or backyard.

Long Island Mammoth

Also known as Long Island Mammoth this one is an old-time favorite. Its fern-like leaves can be dried and stored for a long time, or they can be harvested fresh. It produces big clusters of yellow flowers with flat tops. They turn into brown seed heads, and they can reach a height of five feet.

Fernleaf

Grown to a height of only 18 inches, Anethum graveolens, or Fernleaf, is a highly productive dwarf variety. It works well in container gardens or small in-ground beds. Its feathery, delicate foliage has a great flavor of dill. From midsummer into fall, it blossoms.

Bouquet

The ‘Bouquet’ cultivar produces plants up to thirty inches tall with fine bluish-green foliage. The enormous, six-inch-diameter yellow flower heads are ideal for drying, creating an enduring arrangement. Or you could chop them for fresh floral arrangements.

How to Keep New Dill Fresh?

How to Keep New Dill Fresh

Dill weed quickly wilts after harvesting and gradually loses its distinctive flavor and aroma. If you know how to store your freshly harvested dill, this shouldn’t be a problem. Here are two straightforward techniques that you can use:

Put It in the Crisper Drawer of the Refrigerator

Loosely wrap the recently cut and cleaned leaves in damp kitchen towels before putting them in a container or sealed bag. Put the container in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, which has a lower humidity than the other sections of the appliance.

Utilize the herbs before they begin to wilt and dry out, which should happen in a few days.

Put It in Water

To make this method function, when harvesting the herb, you must cut off the entire stem. After gathering the stems, put them in a glass of water and seal the opening with a plastic bag. Every day, change the water. Unlike potatoes, dill leaves can remain fresh for up to a week when stored in this manner.

How to Freeze Fresh Dill?

How to Freeze Fresh Dill

Freezing is the best way to preserve extra dill for later use if you’ve harvested more than you can use at once or in a few days. Dill freezes most effectively when chopped into smaller pieces and added to ice cube trays with just enough water to cover the freshly minced dill.

This allows the herbs to be kept for four months or longer. This will ensure you always have dill on hand for when a recipe calls for it.

How to Dry Fresh Dill?

How to Dry Fresh Dill

Dried fresh dill is a popular method if you’re searching for another way to store dill for a long time. The herb has many uses, even though it won’t have as much flavor as when it’s fresh or frozen. All year long, you can use it as a herb in cooked dishes or to make tea.

Stick to hang-drying if you don’t want much of the flavor to be lost. This is a very easy method to use. All you must do is gather a few dill leaves and then bind them with a string. Later, place them in an area with adequate ventilation upside down.

 Place them in an airtight container once they’re crumbling and dry. Even though fresh dill is always preferable, make sure to save some for later use. Particularly if you don’t have a year-round indoor herb and spice garden.

Wrapping Up

Growing dill is a great way to add flavor to fish and seafood dishes. A little goes a long way because fresh dill leaves have a strong licorice flavor. It is best that you add dill toward the end of cooking, in salads, or as a garnish for soups. Because once cooked, it tends to lose its flavor.

If you have thoughts to share or questions to ask about how to harvest dill, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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