Dill is easy to grow annual herb with many culinary uses. The foliage has a flavour somewhere between parsley and aniseed and goes especially well with fish such as salmon – dill is combined with salt, sugar and pepper to make a cured salmon called ‘Gravlax’. Chopped fresh leaves can be added to salads (great in potato salads) and soups or steeped in boiling water to make a herb tea and the seeds can be baked in bread and cakes. A favourite dill combination in our house is when the foliage and seeds are added to vinegar to make a souring pickle for delicious crunchy gherkins when they are ripe in the summer.
Companions Lettuce, onion, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers.
Quantity 1 plant per person.
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Plant or sow in early spring and summer after all risk of frosts has passed.
Dill prefers a warm sunny spot out of the wind. . It should be protected from the hottest part of the day if in a sunny spot - by taller plantings around it’s northern side - and can otherwise grown in partial shade. If allowed to flower in the right conditions dill can reach up to between waist and chest height.
Dill grows on most soil types as long a they have been dug through to at least a spade’s blade deep to allow for their tap root to penetrate. Soil should hold onto some moisture without becoming water-logged after rain or hand watering.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop so that plants end up with about a full hand’s length between them.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length apart. Protect with a juice bottle cloche until plants have ‘beefed up’ and foliage is touching the bottle cloche itself.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out. Mulch to retain soil moisture.
Aphids can be a problem. Treat any visible infestations with Neem oil, Garlic oil spray or Tomato leaf spray.
Pick the tips of stems for kitchen use. Plants may flower within 6 weeks of seedlings developing. Flowering stems can be picked off to keep plants producing fresher foliage or you can allow them to set seed and collect the seed for your kitchen.
Allowing dill to flower and self-seed means you’ll be rewarded with a range of plants in all sorts of unexpected places next spring and summer. The flowers are a great source of nectar that attracts beneficial predatory insects such as hoverflies and parasitic wasps into the garden.