Get a Lifetime Supply of Dill Seeds from Just One Plant
Not only does dill add a zesty punch to your meals, it's also a beautiful, easy-to-grow herb beloved by butterflies. Dill plants are forgiving of most gardening conditions and are fast growers (they can easily reach several feet tall in your garden).
Since dill likes cooler weather, the plant will begin flowering when the weather warms. Leave those flowers to be enjoyed by the butterflies, and then return to save the seeds as a fun summer activity.
Here's how to save tons of dill seeds from your flowers so that you have dill for life. I'm serious. You can get a lifetime supply of seeds from just one plant.
Now that sounds like a pretty good dill to me!
Why Does Dill Flower?
Dill loves cooler weather. If you're growing dill in the spring, it will likely go to seed once the heat of summer arrives.
The downside to all these pretty flowers is that the yummy dill leaf harvests are over. That's because the plant is focusing all its energy now on producing seeds instead of growing more tasty leaves. You can pinch early flower heads off with your fingers to get a couple more leaf harvests out of the plant, but eventually, the plant will have its way and go to seed.
Plants are motivated to produce seeds so that their kind will continue on and on. Fortunately for us, dill is extremely motived. The tradeoff for losing the leaf harvests is the reward of thousands of dill seeds.
Evolution of a Dill Flower
Yellow Flower Clusters
Dill first produces these delicate yellow flower clusters in the shape of an umbel. This characteristic shape is how dill's plant family, the umbellifers, get their name.
Leave these flowers be. For one, they're going to attract all kinds of beneficial insects to your garden space, including swallowtail butterflies. These little flowers also have to spend more time on the plant before they'll produce seeds. If you cut them now, you'll have a really pretty filler for your cut flower arrangement but no seeds.
Green Seed Pods
After a week or so, the yellow flowers will begin to close to form lime green seed pods. These pods are like little green fists wrapped around what's now the most important part of the plant: its hope for the future.
Leave these green seed pods be.
Brown Seed Pods
If you allow the green seed pods to continue hanging out on your plant, they'll fade to a light beige color within a couple of days. Give them a couple more days, and they'll transition to a brown color.
Only when seed pods are brown are they ready to be harvested.
Step One to Save Your Own Dill Seed
Harvest Dill Seed Pods
Seeds are ready to be harvested once they're brown and completely dried on the plant. In addition to color, you can also check for moisture or softness. If the pods don't feel dry and hard, then they're not quite ready because they're still retaining water.
To harvest the seeds, hold a bowl underneath as you cut the dried flower heads from the stems of the plant with a clean pair of scissors or pruners.
If you've clipped some seed pods that need more time to dry, hang them upside down in a cool, dry, somewhat dark place to dry for a couple days more.
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Step Two to Save Your Own Dill Seed
Remove Dill Seeds
Bunch the seed heads together with your fingers to encourage the seeds to detach from the seed head. Each dill plant will produce four to eight seed heads at least, and each seed head will probably contain 200 to 300 seeds. Just one plant can produce thousands of seeds.
That's the magic of the garden. Once you get plants started, they're on a mission to reproduce themselves over and over again. They do so much of the work for you!
Allow your seeds to sit for another day or two to ensure they're fully dried out.
Step Three to Save Your Own Dill Seed
Store Dill Seeds
Once you've got the seeds separated, you have a couple of different options to store them for next season. I like to buy seed saving envelopes from seed companies; these should have adhesive at the top to secure the seeds inside. You could also save your seeds in a brown paper bag. Whatever container you use, make sure to label it with where you got the seeds from and the date of harvest.
Keep your seeds in a nice, dry place, and boom! you've got yourself dill seed for the rest of your life.
Ways to Enjoy Your Dill Seeds
Now, I don't know about you, but I can't exactly fit thousands of dill plants in my garden over the next couple of years. If I could, then I'd be all set.
Unfortunately, seeds in the umbellifer family, including dill, don't last very long, even when stored properly. So, here are three ways to enjoy your dill seeds over the next year or two:
One: Grow Dill Microgreens
Dill makes an excellent microgreen because even teeny tiny leaves of this plant have that characteristic dill flavor. Scatter dill seeds over a moistened seed starting mix, give it lots of light, and you should have dill microgreens in about 20 days. Learn more about growing microgreens.
Two: Use Dill Seeds as a Seasoning
I love to use dill seeds as a flavoring on salads and soups, especially in the wintertime when I'm craving garden-fresh flavors. I pour seeds into a clean spice shaker and store with the rest of my seasonings in the kitchen. You can toast dill seeds, add them to a pickling recipe, and even fry them.
Three: Share with Friends
Scoop some seeds into a seed envelope and hand them out to friends. Who doesn't love free seeds? Dill is super easy to grow from seed, so this could be a great introduction for someone who's been wanting to get into gardening.
Time to Save Some Dill Seeds
If you have kids, get them outside and involved in saving dill seeds with you. It's a great activity to teach them about a plant's life cycle, they'll get to see what seeds actually look like, and they'll have something to do with their hands besides playing on their iPhone. Like I said, pretty big dill, right?
I hope that this little lesson on harvesting dill seed has opened your eyes to the magic of the garden and inspired you to save lots of dill seeds for yourself or for friends and family. The garden is meant to be shared, so thanks for being here and sharing in the magic of seeds with me!
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