How to Harvest Dill Seeds: Simple Steps for Gardeners

Dill seeds are not something I use in my kitchen, although I’ve been told they are a versatile and flavorful addition to many dishes.

I do use the fresh herb for soups, and always keep a stash of frozen herb in my freezer. This makes them one of the essential herbs to grow in my garden.

As an annual herb, dill (Anethum graveolens) thrives during the warmer months, providing you with fresh leaves and eventually seeds, both of which can be harvested for various uses.

The main reason I save dill seeds isn’t to eat them: its to plant them next year! One less seed packet I need to buy.

I am on a mission to save more seeds. Not only does this save money on the annual seed ordering budget, it also makes me less dependent on outside suppliers.

It use to be that everyone saved seeds from their gardens. And it you didn’t have any, you got them from a neighborhood seed swap.

When it comes time to collect dill seeds, knowing the right technique can make the process enjoyable and easy.

As your dill plant starts to bloom, the yellow flowers will slowly fade, and the dill seeds will start to form.

The key is to wait for the seeds to turn brown before harvesting, ensuring they are fully mature and ready for use in cooking or gardening projects.

With just a little bit of patience and the right information, you’ll be able to harvest dill seeds like a pro.

Not only will this provide you with a bountiful supply for your culinary adventures, but it will also give you the satisfaction of growing and collecting your very own dill seeds.

So don’t wait any longer – start planning your dill harvest and bring the wonderful world of Anethum graveolens into your home.

Understanding the Dill Plant

Dill is a popular herb commonly grown in gardens for its flavorful leaves and seeds. Its an easy to grow plant, that attracts pollinators and smells so good to us humans too.

Dill Varieties

There are various dill varieties available for planting, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the popular varieties include:

  • Bouquet: A common variety with a strong aroma, good for both leaves and seeds production.
  • Fernleaf: A compact variety with a more delicate flavor and appearance, perfect for smaller gardens.

Growing Conditions

Dill is an annual herb that thrives in summer and spring.

It prefers full sun and well-draining soil. A slightly acidic to neutral pH is ideal for dill, and adding some organic matter or compost can help provide the necessary nutrients. At our new place, we have alkaline soil, and dill still thrived.

When planting dill, choose a location with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Keep in mind that dill has a long taproot, which makes it drought-tolerant but less suitable for transplanting.

If planting with other vegetables, avoid beans and carrots, as dill may hinder their growth.

Dill is fairly resistant to diseases, but watch out for pests like aphids. Regularly check your plants for signs of disease and remove any infected leaves or stems.

Beneficial Insects and Pests

Dill serves as a natural attractant for pollinators and beneficial insects that can help control pests in your vegetable garden.

However, some pests, such as black swallowtail caterpillars, can be found on dill plants.

Here’s a quick breakdown of beneficial insects and pests related to dill:

InsectsEffect on Dill
Black Swallowtail ButterfliesPollinators
WaspsPest Control
AphidsHarmful Pest
Black Swallowtail CaterpillarsHarmful Pest

To encourage beneficial insects like wasps, plant a diverse garden with plenty of flowering plants. This will provide habitat and food sources for these helpful creatures.

Keep a close eye on your dill for any pest infestations, and consider organic solutions like insecticidal soap for aphids if necessary.

Propagating and Growing Dill

Starting from Seeds

Sow your dill seeds directly in the ground once the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is typically after the last danger of frost is well past.

Plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep and space them 12 to 15 inches apart in rows, giving your dill plants plenty of room to grow.

Germination Tips:

  • Keep the soil consistently moist
  • Germination occurs in 10-14 days
  • Thin out weaker seedlings to ensure proper spacing

Dill is hard to see at its baby stages, as its a very fine herb. Be sure to mark your plantings.

Transplanting and Staking Dill

If you start your dill plants indoors, be sure not to wait too long before transplanting the seedlings into your garden, as dill doesn’t like being confined to small pots due to its taproot system.

You should transplant your seedlings about one inch deep, ensuring that they’re spaced 12 to 15 inches apart.

Dill can grow quite tall, often reaching up to 3-4 feet in height. Therefore, you might need to stake your dill plants to prevent them from falling over.

Insert a supportive stake before transplanting, and gently tie the dill to the stake as it grows. Make sure to avoid damaging the stem or taproot when staking your plant.

For optimal growth, consider planting dill alongside friendly companion plants, such as tomatoes.

Additionally, pinch and use your dill often, as pinching the growing tip results in a bushier plant with more foliage for you to enjoy.

Harvesting Dill and Dill Seeds

When to Harvest

Harvesting dill and dill seeds from your growing herb garden is a simple process. Keep an eye on your dill plants, as they usually reach the optimal stage for harvesting during the summer months.

It’s best to harvest dill leaves before the plant starts flowering, while the dill seeds should be collected once they turn brown.

To harvest dill herbs, cut the plant down to two inches from the ground in its finer stages. This I use for soup, and is one of the first things I harvest from my garden.

It will regrow, and produce dill seeds.

Harvesting Technique

To harvest dill leaves, gently snip or clip them off the plant, ideally in the early morning when they are the most flavorful.

For dill seeds, you’ll want to clip the entire flower head from the plant when the seeds are brown. Be careful when doing this, as the seeds can easily drop from the plant when disturbed. You can clip the flower head directly into a paper bag or bucket to prevent seed loss.

Collecting and Storing Seeds

Once you’ve clipped the dill flower heads, store them in a small paper bag with stems sticking out of the top. Tie up the bag and hang it in a well-ventilated area for a week or more, until the dill heads are brown and dry.

After the drying process is complete, it’s time to winnow and sift the seeds.

Hold the dried flower heads over a large bowl or tray, and gently rub the seeds to separate them from the dill head.

You can then winnow by lightly blowing any remaining chaff away or sift the seeds through a fine mesh sieve to remove any debris.

Place the clean, dry dill seeds in labeled envelopes or small, air-tight jars for storage.

Keep them in a cool, dark, and dry location to maintain their freshness. Properly stored dill seeds can be preserved for future use in both cooking and propagation of your dill plants.

It’s important to label the seeds to avoid confusion with other herbs and ensure that you know when self-sowing or planting is most effective for successful growth.

Don’t forget that you can also preserve and store your harvested dill leaves by drying or freezing them, allowing you to have a constant supply of this flavorful herb in your kitchen.

Using Dill in Cooking

Fresh and Dried Dill

Dill is a versatile herb that can be used both fresh and dried in a variety of dishes. The feathery leaves, also known as dill weed, provide a mild, aromatic flavor that pairs beautifully with fish, poultry, and vegetables.

Fresh dill weed can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel or placed in a glass of water for up to a week.

I harvest and wash dill weed. A lettuce spinner works great to get out excess water. Then I chop finely and freeze in containers. It separates easily for soups and casseroles. Whenever I add it to dishes, my house smells like summer.

Dill seeds, on the other hand, have a stronger, slightly bitter taste reminiscent of caraway or anise.

They’re often used in pickling recipes, breads, and stews. To preserve the full flavor of dill seeds, store them in an airtight container away from heat and light. When you’re ready to use them, crush the seeds gently to release their essential oils.

If you don’t have access to fresh dill, dried dill can be a suitable substitute.

Dried dill loses some of its intensity, so you may need to use more of it to achieve the desired flavor. Store dried dill in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to six months.

Dill seeds were one of the first seeds I saved from my garden. Seed saving use to intimidate me a lot, but once I started, I realized that it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Have you harvested and saved your own dill seeds?