If you want an easy herb to grow, dill (Anethum graveolens) is perfect for your garden. Dill is an annual plant that is able to profusely seed itself prior to its demise. The seeds, leaves and flower heads can be used in foods and the plant is also a beautiful ornamental. Dill grows two to four feet in height and flourishes in the spring and summer.
Grow dill from seed. The seeds are tiny, so be careful as you plant! Push each seed just below the surface of good soil, in a sunny location. Dill thrives on having many hours of sunshine daily. You will want to start your seeds in the garden in early spring after the threat of frost has passed. Be sure to place each seed six inches from its neighbor. As the seedlings sprout, thin back to nine inches between the plants. Each row should be 12 inches apart.
Dill likes a good watering but the soil must drain well. This herb is vigorous and will take over the garden if left undeterred. Be sure to plant with dill's favorite companions: Broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cabbage and lettuce. Dill and fennel will cross-pollinate if they are planted in close proximity, and the results are poor. Keep them far apart in your yard or grow dill and fennel at different times.
Fertilize dill at least once during the growing season for best results. Dill is notorious for leaching soil nutrients. Keep your dill garden free of weeds as they easily encroach upon dill's territory.
You can also start dill indoors. Use egg cartons or small containers and follow the same process as planting outside. Keep the seeds well-watered while they germinate and after they sprout, but be sure not to let the soil become soggy. Move your young dill plants outdoors after the last frost. Dill will flourish indoors as long as it has plenty of sunlight. This herb is also ideal for container gardening if you have a small yard or live in an apartment.
Harvest dill when the seed heads are fully formed. Begin with the lower ones first, moving upwards as the other heads ripen. Tie small bunches of dill together with string and turn upside down to initiate the drying process. Be sure to cover the bunches with a plastic bag in order to catch the seeds. Punch a few holes in the top of the bag to allow air to circulate.
At the end of the season, allow a few of your best mother plants to go to seed. Dill will reward you with even better plants the following year! Some gardeners don't have to replant again due to dill's ability to propagate on its own.
Dill is used for pickling, and as a spice in sauces, egg dishes, stews and fish dishes. The herb is native to the Mediterranean and Southern Russia regions. Centuries ago, traders introduced the herb to the rest of the world. Dill is typically found in Greek, Eastern European, Jewish and Russian dishes, and is excellent fresh, dried or frozen.