Common dill (Anethum graveolens) has naturalized in North America after its introduction from the native southwestern Asia. Dill is easy to grow, giving textural visual interest to the garden with its 3- to 4-ft tall, feathery foliage and 6-inch broad umbrels of bright yellow blossoms. Dill foliage is food for black swallowtail caterpillars, so it is recommended as a host plant from blossom gardens. However, dill really shines from the kitchen. The sweetly pungent taste is concentrated in the leaves and the seeds, making dill a popular herb for a vast assortment of culinary uses. Dill weed is simply another name for dill foliage.
Dill prefers full sun in well-drained soil. It grows easily from seed from U. S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in loose soil in the first spring. Make successive sowings every two to three weeks for a continuous supply. Successive sowings permit you to allow the ancient plants mature so it’s possible to use the seeds when cucumbers are all set to pickle. Later plantings give you a source of fresh dill weed through the entire year. In desert regions, plant dill in late summer and early fall to avoid extreme heat. Water newly planted dill to aid germination, and irrigate sometimes throughout the entire year to maintain the dirt from completely drying out. As seedlings grow, thin them to stand about 18 inches apart. An easy method to grow dill is to let it reseed directly in the garden.
Young dill plants which you lean from the garden are ideal to thicken for tender, fresh dill weed. Although you can trim dill foliage at any opportunity to utilize new, the leaves have the best flavor before the umbrels blossom. Trimmed dill continues to grow new leaves until the plant flowers, so it is possible to replicate harvest the foliage. Harvest dill seeds from mature plants after the blossoms plant seeds. The blossom umbrels become clusters of seeds that pertain to the plant until they are fully mature. Snip off the seed heads once the seeds are brown and dry before the seeds scatter. Hold a tote or big bowl under the heads and snip — allow the seed heads fall into the container.
Wash fresh dill weed and wash it dry, chop it, then freeze it in tiny containers or suspend it flat on a baking sheet to move to small containers. To dry dill weed, loosely tie together a few branches at the base with rope or a rubber band and hang on the bundles upside-down in an airy place out of sunlight. Bruising the branches may cause stains of decay or mold, so handle the dill gently. You might also use an electric dehydrator to dry dill weed quickly. A dehydrator assists the dried leaves retain the bright green colour of fresh dill. Shake the dry dill seeds from the stalks into a bowl, sorting out the stalks for disposal. Store dried dill weed and dill seeds in airtight containers in the cabinet.
Is dill an herb or spice? It’s both. Herbs are leaves, so dill weed is an herb. Legendary as a flavoring for fish, dill weed is excellent in soups and stews, dips and sauces, also to taste vegetables, rice and omelets. Dill seeds are regarded as a spice because they are parts of the plant which are leaves. Use whole or ground seeds to taste dill pickles and to make flavored vinegar, and add them to sauerkraut, breads and rolls, cakes and cole slaw. Dill seeds include zip to roasted root veggies, and they include sweet pungency to curry powder. Dill weed also produces a lovely foliage replacement for ferns in flower arrangements. It adds odor as well as colour, and lasts several days in a vase of water.