Dill is a charming herb with lacy leaves that looks lovely in the landscape, pretty on the plate, and is pleasing to the palate. Best of all, dill grows well enough in the Southwest in our cool season gardens of the winter months ahead.
How to Grow Dill
Dill is a member of the Carrot Family, and like most of the family it is a little bit fussy about growing conditions. That said – dill is one of the least fussy in the family – thus it makes a good “gateway” herb to grow.
Dill and most of the carrot kin grow best in a well-drained, sandy, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. That isn’t our desert soils! It’s potting soil! Thus dill is really easy to grow in containers. Use a pot one and a half feet deep (or deeper). Any store-bought potting soil should do. Maybe add some sand if it doesn’t have flecks of white perlite (puffed lava to help drainage) in it.
Keep the soil relatively moist while the babies get growing. Then let your dill dry a little more between water once the plants get larger. Some people believe this makes their flavors stronger. This may mean daily at first. Place your pots where this little task will be easy, not tedious.
Plan on placing your pots of dill where they get six or more hours of winter sun in December. If it gets less sun in those dark days – it means slower and less healthy growth.
Dill gets very lush and full with some fertilizer. But! Don’t fertilize anything within 2 weeks of planting it, and don’t fertilize if frost is a possibility. If you bought some brand new potting soil you don’t need to purchase or use fertilizer. Come late February or early March you could apply a half-strength general purpose fertilizer.
Which to Plant – Plants or Seeds?
While dill’s cousins cilantro and parsley are often found on growing benches in nurseries, dill rarely makes it. Not enough demand I guess. Thus seed is what you need.
Harvest – Daily Even
Dill leaves taste great fresh – anytime. Once plants get about a foot tall, I use scissors or fingernails to harvest a few fresh leaves for salads or delicious “Dilly Corn.” Just posted how to make Dilly Corn for dinner on SavortheSW- here. Dry some dill too. I harvest leaves for drying at the end of the season, and dill seed too – but seed saving is a topic for a future post.
The Natural Death of Dill
Dill will “bolt” (flower, set seed, and die) next April, but that’s a good thing – the flowers bring in pollinators. This death of dill also leaves space for the hot season garden. If you are a snow-bird, this habit of dill to live only for a short term offers the option of snow birding to cooler climates and leaving things to go their own way – without any guilt.
Learn More about Southwest Gardening
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More about growing cool season herbs in this book Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.
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