If you’re a home canner, then you probably have a few dill plants growing in your herb patch. I have over 40 dill plants started in my greenhouse and it’s not necessarily for putting up dill pickles. Fresh dill tastes fantastic in chilled cucumber salads, egg dishes and fish, and even has some amazing healing properties to aid digestion, help with insomnia, and settle irritated intestines.
Another surprising use for dill is as a trap crop. Dill is very attractive to tomato hornworms and if it’s planted at a distance will draw these pests away from your tomato plants. Dill also repels squash beetles, aphids, and spider mites and provides a source of food to swallow tail butterfly caterpillars (source: P. Allen Smith). All these reasons are why I grow so much dill and to save money, I grow it by seed instead of buying them as seedlings at my favorite gardening center. While dill can be direct sown into ground after the last spring frost, my growing season is so short that I have to start it indoors. Here is how it’s done.
Gather your supplies
To grow dill from seed, you will need a plastic tray with lid, small 3″ pots (or similar), organic potting mix, spray bottle, and a packet of dill seeds.
Planting the seeds
Loosely fill each pot with potting mix, add water to thoroughly moisten the potting medium. Press a slight indention into the soil with your finger, sprinkle one dill seed on top and cover with 1/4 inch of dry potting mix. Spritz the potting mix with the water sprayer. Cover tray (either with plastic lid or plastic wrap) and place in warm, sunny window. Water regularly, taking care to keep the potting mix wet without being soggy. Your dill seeds should germinate in about 7-10 days.
Watch them grow
Once the dill has germinated, take off the lid and watch them grow. Dill should remain in the greenhouse (or a sunny window) until all danger of frost has past. A week before they are ready to go in the ground, they should be acclimated to the weather by bringing them outdoors for a couple of hours at first, then gradually increasing the hours until they can manage a full day. The dill plants are then ready to be transplanted in your garden. If you will be using the dill as a trap crop like I do, it’s best to plant them next to the cucumbers and in a direct line to the tomatoes.
LA Healthy Living: The healthy properties of dill
P. Allen Smith: Pest control plants
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What vegetable seeds grow best in my area
Why I plant vegetables and flowers together