Dill is a versatile herb that originates from Eastern Europe. It is a semi-hardy perennial (though it is grown in the UK as an annual). This means that in its natural environment dill lives throughout the year and can survive for several years. However because temperatures in the UK can drop below -4C, dill is most commonly grown as an annual herb. This means seeds are re-sown each spring and it only lives for a year.
Dill is grown for both its leaves and seeds. They are used to flavour all sorts of dishes, including fish, lamb, potatoes and peas. Its flavour is similar to aniseed, so only use a small quantity as too much of it can overwhelm the other flavours.
Dill is an attractive herb, with wispy, feathery leaves. It can be grown in containers or in the garden.
How to Grow Dill
Dill thrives in most conditions and germinates quickly. Prepare the soil by digging thoroughly, removing weeds and incorporating plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted animal manure or homemade compost.
Start sowing seeds in April. Scatter them over the soil’s surface and cover with a thin layer of compost. Seedlings will usually emerge within 2 weeks and should be thinned to around 24cm apart. Re-sow seeds every 3-5 weeks. This will ensure a continual supply of dill throughout the summer months.
Growing Dill in a Container
Dill will thrive in a container on a balcony or patio. Ensure the pot has drainage holes and place old crocks or stones at the bottom to prevent the holes becoming blocked with compost. Use normal potting compost and sow seeds as you would in the ground. Keep the pot well watered – terracotta pots in particular can dry out quickly in hot weather. It’s a good idea to line the inside of pots with a layer of plastic to prevent moisture evaporating. Old compost bags are ideal for this; cut the bottom off and place inside the container before filling it with compost. Once the pot is full the bag is invisible but it will help retain moisture in dry periods.
Caring for Dill
Dill requires very little attention, apart from watering the plants in dry periods. Keep the area free from weeds; weeds will compete with the dill for water and nutrients, which will hamper the growth of your herb.
Dill produces wispy leaves, which can be harvested about eight weeks after sowing. The best way to harvest dill is to cut the plant right down to within 3cm of its base, just before the flower heads open. The plants should re-grow to produce a second crop later in the summer. Dill keeps well in the fridge for up to three weeks. Alternatively, you can freeze it. Simply separate the leaves into individual portions and place them in freezer bags in the freezer. Dill is an attractive and useful herb to grow in the garden. Both its leaves and seeds can be used to flavour a variety of dishes. It is easy to grow and harvest and can be stored in the fridge or freezer to use later on in the season.