As tiny as the dill leaves, the uses and benefits are numerous. Almost all parts of a dill plant are beneficial. The leaves or seeds are used for flavoring and medicinal purposes.
The plant is delicate and fragile that it can easily be damaged if handled carelessly, thus losing the opportunity to come back the previous season.
One way to kill this herb is to harvest it wrongly. So if you have been killing your plants in an attempt to harvest them, these details outlined here on how to harvest dill without killing the plant will interest you.
You will be able to know how to harvest dill, when to harvest dill, and how to store dill so that you can enjoy the harvest for a more extended period.
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Should You Allow Dill To Flower?
Every garden enthusiast that deals with most herb plants understand that allowing these plants to flower is bad because most herbs are grown for the leaves and not the flowers and seeds.
But when it comes to dills, it is a whole different ball game. The seeds are almost as beneficial as the leaves. But each gardener knows what he wants to get from cultivating dill.
As you may already know, flowering impedes leaves production. When you allow a plant to flower, the plant automatically channels all the resources to flow and produce seeds while giving less relevance to making healthy leaves.
Dill is not an exception to this. You need to decide exactly what part of the plant is more important to you and nurture the growth appropriately.
So what if you choose to pick both the leaves and the seeds?
Well, this is our recommendation.
You can have different dill bushes sections where you cultivate each of them according to what part you desire.
Note that the flavor of the leaves is at its best just before it flowers and form seeds.
When To Pick Dill Leaves
Timing is very crucial to a successful harvest. Dill takes a short period to grow from seedling to maturity.
Typically, it takes about 70 days for dill to be ready for harvest. At this point, you can start to pick the leaves if you do not want it to bloom. On the other hand, if you prefer to collect the seed, you will have to wait up to 90 days from planting to collect the seeds.
However, this should not always be the case. You can start to pick the leaves when the plant has produced about 4 or 5 leaves.
Does Dill Grow Back Each Year?
Dill is not technically a perennial plant, but it is a biennial that is most commonly grown as an annual plant.
It is very sensitive to frost and light-freezes, so it may even be challenging to cultivate indoors because it will still get affected by the weather.
During winter, the plant goes dormant and comes back once the temperature starts to warm up. Gardeners have said that 25 degrees Fahrenheit is the killing temperature for dill.
How To Harvest Dill Without Killing The Plant
As we said earlier, dill plant is delicate and fragile, this is where harvesting gets more interesting. Except you are harvesting a bunch of the plants, you could pick the leaves by pinching the stems with your fingers.
However, a pair of kitchen scissors or garden pruners will be more professional, especially for a larger harvest.
When harvesting dill, it is recommended to pick from the top. This stimulates growth in the right direction. So rather than the plant growing upwards, it grows outward.
More importantly, to prevent the plant from dying after harvest, be sure not to harvest more than 1/3 of the plant. Picking more than this recommendation will cause the plant to wilt.
The good thing about dill is that it does not require constant pruning or harvesting to thrive.
Harvesting the seeds is almost similar to picking the leaves.
There is only one indication that it is time to harvest them. After 90 days of cultivation, wait until the seeds start to turn brown, then it is ready to be plucked off. Again, it can be done with your bare hands or a kitchen scissor or pruners.
How To Store Dill Leaves And Seeds
Dill plant wilt fast after plucking it, but this does not affect the flavor. If you want to enjoy the freshness of this herb, it is required that you store them.
Pick a few bunches of the harvest stems and spray them lightly with a fine spray of water. Wrap loosely in paper towels and place them inside a zip sealed zip-top plastic bag. Refrigerate it – this procedure can preserve the plant for a couple of days and even longer.
Another way to preserve the leaves longer is to place it in a freezer. Frozen dill leaves will last longer for at least 2 months. The downside is that it will darken a bit in color.
The last option will be to dry it. Store dill in a cool, dry, dark place. It could take a few weeks to attain complete dryness. You can be sure that a dried dill plant could last as much as six months.
Frozen dill weed will still have more flavor than dried dill. And fresh dill will be more valuable in flavor and freshness than a preserved one.
Typically, dill plants last for 2 years since it is a biennial warm-season herb. But this depends on how much care they get and especially how they are harvested. If they are harvested rightly as highlighted here, their lifespan could be elongated. If let to grow naturally, a single dill plant should come back year after year.
While pruning may not be necessary, if you are cultivating for the leaves, you may want to stop it from flowering by light pruning.
More importantly, whether you are pruning or harvesting, do not cut off more than one-third of the plant during its season.