One of the most favorite herbs and which has a common presence in any kitchen is the dill. The Dill is native to southern Europe, and Greeks love to cook with it. We can also find it in German and Scandinavian cuisines because of its excellent flavor.
Dill, whether dried or fresh leaves, can add flavor to fish, soups, salads, and any casseroles. The seeds can be used as whole or ground and added to salad dressings, bread, among others.
You can grow dill using containers, and you can plant it with other herbs near the kitchen, and you will have a fresh dill harvest in just eight weeks. However, sometimes you will have yellowing dill plants or with a brown hue. This may indicate improper care for your dill plants, and it may no longer be ideal to use it for your salad, soups, and in your casseroles. It may already lack in flavor.
Although dill can be dried for future use, users mostly prefer freshly harvested plants.
How To Grow The Dill Plant In Your Garden?
- The ideal temperature to grow a dill is between 16 to 18 degrees centigrade.
- The soil you will use should be well-draining, sandy loam with some organic matter mixed with it, and the ideal pH of 5.6 to 6.5.
- Dill plants will grow well if exposed to sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.
- It will not thrive well in the windy surrounding as the stalks of this plant are fragile and can easily get damaged by strong winds.
- It is best to plant the seeds directly into the soil or use a container instead of transplanting them cause rarely will it survive.
- It will thrive during the spring and will not take well to cool or frosty weather.
- Seeds must be at least an inch deep, with a 12 to a 15-inch gap between plants.
- Dill seeds will germinate in one to three weeks in ideal soil temperature.
- You need not water the soil too much and should have the right moisture.
- Using fertilizer once each growing season is enough, do not over-fertilize.
- If strong winds cannot be prevented, putting up stakes to protect the plant will be useful.
- Keep weeds away from your dill plants. They are competitors for space, nutrients, and water, so best to remove them the first time you notice them.
- Using mulch will help regulate the soil temperature, plus it will help keep the moisture of the soil. Do not put mulch on the stems of your dill plants, as this will cause them to rot.
- Make sure that you are watering your dill plants during the dry spell. Keep the soil moist but not overly saturated.
Problems You Will Face When Growing Dill Plants.
Just like any other plant, there are common pests and diseases you have to watch out for and which you have to eliminate to have a full harvest.
Flecks on leaves appear, look like spots of dried-up leaves or dying spots. This is created by a fungus and spread by wind or water drips and splash. Fungicide spray is the appropriate prevention.
Seeds that soften and rots and will not germinate. The seeds will not break. Sometimes after breaking, the seeds will collapse and die out. The common cause is the fungus as well and is spread via water contaminated soil or plant pruners that are used in infected plants.
Management is with correct soil drainage and not over-watering the plant, soil that is too wet will usually cause this to happen. You can use the fungicide, before planting to remove the pathogens.
The appearance of powdery growth on leaves, flowers, and stalks. Sometimes the dill flowers become distorted with severe infections. Caused by a fungus that is spread via air.
Excessive fertilization should be avoided, and the application of fungicide is enough to protect the plants from further infection.
Carrot Redleaf Virus
The appearance of red and yellow leaves with the dill plant getting stunted in its growth. This is caused by a virus and transmitted by aphids. Products are available in the market to stop further transmission.
You can find soft-bodied insects clinging to the stems or leaves of the plant, and usually green or yellow. There will be an appearance of necrotic spots on the leaves, yellowing, and distorted leaves are also common.
There is also stunted growth for the shoots. Sooty molds appear on the plants because of the sugary and sticky substance that the aphids secrete.
For slight infestation, management is by cutting the part where aphids are found. It is also ideal to check your plants daily, so aphids will not have the time to double. If the infestation is high, it may require insecticides.
Root Knot Nematode
The dill plant will appear yellowish, losing its vibrant appearance to the point of wilting.
The problem will appear as early as a month after planting. Checking the plant roots will help, doing this as often is ideal.
Feed on the leaves, and will create leaves that are chewed on with some parts missing. You can determine if pests are feeding on your dill plants because of the plant’s entire appearance.
There are spots on fruits, and you will find eggs on the leaves. The eggs have a whitish scale and present a fuzzy appearance.
You can control this problem by using organic methods. There are also chemical methods in controlling the spread of this insect, but incorrect usage may do more harm than good.
When Is The Best Time To Harvest Your Dill?
- You need to dry the leaves, the stem, and the seeds so you can have a year-round supply of your favorite herb.
- You can harvest as soon as you see four to five leaves in your dill plants. It is best to get the older leaves first for consumption and leave the smaller leaves to grow fully. Some users prefer to get the entire stalk instead of cutting off leaves or pinching some parts of the stem.
- Some people prefer to have fresh dill, instead of the dry version of this herb because dried dill requires you to use more for flavoring as it loses the pungency that is present when fresh dill, are used. Drying this herb is easy, and by tying the stems and hanging the herbs upside down and cover the bunch with a bag made of paper with holes so that air can circulate and catch the falling seeds and leaves at the same time.
- Drying the dill with the use of an oven is also possible if you don’t like to dry it by hanging. When you place it inside the oven, use the lowest temperature possible, and then once the herbs are turned into a crisp, you can then crumble it before storage.
- Storing fresh dill in the fridge can be done by sprinkling the leaves with some water and then wrapping it loosely in a paper towel. You can either place it in a ziplock bag or a well-covered container on top of a paper towel.
- You can store this preparation for up to a week, but if you want to keep it stored for a longer period, you can freeze fresh dill instead and placing it on a single layer in an ideal container in the freezer. This is good to use for up to 6 months and will still give the best flavor.
- You can use the frozen dill without the need to thaw them, you just add to any food directly. Dried dill and the dill seeds can be stored in a tightly covered container and stored in the cupboard where it will not be exposed to sunlight. You can enjoy the herb and its flavor for six months up to a year.
- The flavor will still be intact, but you may need to add more if you want a stronger taste compared to using fresh dill harvest.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Dill In Your Cooking?
It is high in vitamin C, Manganese, vitamin A, Iron, and Folate while being low in calories. We also know it to be a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from cell damage.
We also consider Dill having potential benefits for heart health, lowering blood sugar levels, with its possible anticancer properties, its antibacterial properties, its benefit to bone health, and for relief of menstrual cramps.
The seeds and leaves of this plant are rich in Flavonoids, which is a compound that reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancer, plus aids in brain health.
Terpenoids which is a compound that may protect against liver, kidney, heart, and brain conditions.
Tannins are known to have potent antioxidant properties and antimicrobial results.
Other uses for dill, include:
- The use of dill for soups and vegetable as garnishing
- To add more flavor to salads
- Best included in roasted potatoes
- Added to gravies
- Mixed with yogurt-based dips
- It can be added to fish, egg dishes, and lamb viands
- Used in bread during baking
Dill also adds flavor to marinades, sauces and dressings.