Dill weed is an essential flavoring for pickling. The feathery, fresh young leaves add a delicate flavor to fish, potatoes and sauces and yield thick stems at maturity. The plant bolts in high heat and produces umbrella-shaped flower appendages topped with hard little seeds. The herb literally grows “like a weed,” which is the genesis of the name dill weed. Learn how to harvest dill and how to store dill weed to keep the delicate flavor around all year.
Dill weed is preserved by drying the leaves, seeds or entire stem of the herb. Use pruners or sharp scissors when harvesting dill weed for drying. Cut just the leafy foliage or remove entire stems to dry for canning and seeds. Remove the stems when the seeds are brown and ripe.
How to Harvest Dill
Dill flavor is best when it just begins to flower. Wash the herbs after harvesting dill weed to remove dirt and insects.
You can bunch dry dill seeds by tying the stems together and hanging the herbs upside down. Keep the bunches lightly bundled so air can circulate. Cover the bunches with paper bags that have been liberally punched with holes on the side. The bags will catch the seeds as they dry, along with any pieces of leaf.
Dill weed refers to the greenish blue leaves of the herb, while dill seeds are just the seeds of the dill plant. The overall name of dill is used to describe the entire plant.
A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is also available at garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.
Dill can grow fairly well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). The soil temperature should remain at about 70°F.
Dill can also be easily grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a deep container to accommodate the tall plant and its long roots. Use normal potting compost and keep the plants well watered.
Dill grown outside matures about 90 days after seeding. Although the leaves can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to use, they contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins. Clip them close to the stem in the early morning or late evening.
In general, apply a formulation such as 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound of fertilizer per 100 square feet. “Triple 20” fertilizer is commonly used by gardeners because it is readily available at garden centers.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a perennial herb that typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. Its leaves are used fresh or dried as an herb in dips, soups, salads, and other dishes. The seeds are used as a spice for pickling and for adding flavor to stews and roasts. Dill is native to southern Russia, western Africa, and the Mediterranean. It is part of the Umbelliferae family, which also includes cumin and parsley.
Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant). Do not apply it directly with the seed.