Dill is easy to grow from seed; I just throw a few seed in a large plastic container on my deck in late March. I don’t worry about frost or cold nights but I do make sure the top of the soil is moist until I see the leaves come through the soil and then I water a little less often. Here in Northern Virginia, we seem to have plenty of rain or snow in March so the seeds do not dry out. Now, when the garden soil is warmer, I will gently lift the seedlings out with a trowel and plant in the garden bed in full sun.
Dill is an annual, but it may re-seed in the garden. Dill foliage, also called dill weed, can be used fresh or dried. Although dill weed’s claim to fame is pickles, we tend to use fresh leaves in the summer for egg dishes, fish, tomato salads, cucumber salads, cooked carrots, fresh veggie dishes and even dill butter. In the winter, we use the dried dill for canned veggies, egg dishes, and tuna salad. It is easy to dry the foliage, just wash and let dry flat on paper towels for a few weeks, then store in a glass jar.
Dill tends to flower quickly in the summer so it is best to sow seed several times to ensure a continuous supply of dill weed. By summer, I simply sow seed directly into the garden bed, making sure the seeds do not dry out. The flowers are actually beneficial to the garden, they attract the good bugs. However, once the plants flower, they set seed and the plant itself starts to put energy into the seed and not the foliage. It is easy to save the seed because they are all in one structure called an umbel. When the seeds are brown, simply cut the stalk to the umbel into a large paper bag. Let dry for a few weeks, then put the umbel on a plate or in a large bowl and rub the seeds off. Store seeds in a glass jar and either use them in the kitchen or plant them next year. Seeds can be used in baking, breads, or crackers, but I have not tried this personally yet (that will be this winter’s project).
So much has been written about this old herb, one can easily search for information on the internet or in herb books. My favorite dill booklet is Dilly Bits, published by the Herb Society of America, copyright by the HSA, see the link below. It is a compilation of HSA members’ experiences with dill across the country. http://www.herbsociety.org/herbs/documents/DillyBits5-Final.pdf
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