Fennel is a tender perennial, which means the plant may make it through the winter in warm areas, but is sensitive to cold.Be sure to look for vigorous young fennel plants from Bonnie Plants®, the company that has been helping home gardeners succeed for over a century.For best results, improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.Both Miracle-Gro products are enriched with aged compost and provide just the right organic nutrition to get plants off to a strong start.Stick your finger into the soil to check moisture; if the top inch is dry, it's time to water.For best results and super-strong growth, you'll want to build on the nutritional foundation provided by starting with great soil.Once blooms begin to appear, you can either pinch them to prevent the plant from going to seed, or just go ahead and let it flower, to attract beneficial insects.The main pest that seems to bother fennel is the parsleyworm, which looks like a green caterpillar with black and yellow bands.Bulbs can be sliced for use in salads and side dishes, or roasted to mellow the strong flavor.Fennel flowers are edible, and make wonderful garnishes for fish, meat, potato, and tomato dishes. .
How to Grow and Care for Fennel in Your Herb Patch
The edible yellow blossoms, seeds, feathery leaves, pollen, roots, and stems have long been prized for their robust, anise-like fragrance and flavor, and their usefulness as ingredients in cooking, magical potions, and traditional medicine.If you grow the common type, you can prevent its spread by removing flower heads before they run to seed.Remember to consult with your local agricultural extension service before adding fennel to your herb garden.F. vulgare has upright, branching growth, finely feathered green leaves, and yellow blossoms in flattened “umbels,” resembling those of other Apiaceae family members.The dulce type has even sweeter seeds that offer the best flavor when pressed to extract their aromatic essential oils.F.
vulgare varieties are cool-weather crops that perform best when planted in either early spring, or late summer to fall.It found a welcome place in the kitchen, where the stems, leaves, and fruits were used in recipes to mask poor quality food with the pleasant aroma exuded by its aromatic compounds.Throughout the Middle Ages, traditional practitioners believed it was capable of curing ailments ranging from anti-inflammatory to GI and pulmonary problems.In superstitious circles, the mere presence of the herb was thought to ward off evil spirits and render witches’ spells ineffective.By the 1700s, the familiar herb was classified as F. vulgare Mill, after English botanist and gardener Phillip Miller.However, by the 1800s, French critic, novelist, and journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr decried the herb in his A Tour Round My Garden, in which he stated in his section on fennel, “At the end of three or four hundred years it was discovered that this had never cured anybody.”.In modern times, India has taken the lead worldwide in commercial fennel production, and seeds are readily available for home garden planting.If you want to grow fennel in the spring, it’s best to start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date for your region.Also, because of the temperamental taproot, it’s wise to use seed starter cells that biodegrade, and transplant them in their entirety to the garden after the danger of frost has passed.If you don’t know the composition or pH of the earth in your garden, conduct a soil test through your local agricultural extension service, and amend as needed with compost or other rich organic matter, sand for better drainage, and lime to sweeten overly acidic soil.However, avoid soggy soil, as it makes seedlings prone to a fatal fungal condition called “damping off,” which causes them to fall over and die.Let them acclimate to the outdoors by remaining in their seed starter pots for a day or two to harden off before transplanting into the garden.They are also susceptible to “tip burn,” a condition in which insufficient watering may inhibit calcium uptake and cause the edges of the layers to turn brown.Avert trouble with proper watering and harvest when the bulbs are young and about tennis ball sized, as opposed to older and larger.Ken Adams and Dan Drost of the Utah University Extension recommend using three tablespoons of a 21-0-0 (NPK) fertilizer for every 10 feet of rows planted.If you are growing Florence types you can keep the bulbs snowy white by mounding soil or mulch up around them when the vegetables first begin to swell.Adding mulch over the top of the bulb-like roots of the Florence varieties ensure that they remain white and more satisfying in culinary endeavors.If there is, you can snip the ends off the foliage to prevent bud formation, seed drop, and potentially invasive growth.If you should have a particularly warm spell, plants may “bolt” or suddenly go to seed, causing maturity to come to a grinding halt.And finally, weed the garden regularly to reduce competition for water, deter pests, and inhibit moisture buildup that can lead to disease, especially of a fungal nature.Find bronze fennel seeds from True Leaf Market in a variety of packet sizes.Florence Don’t forget to blanch the snowy bulbs with soil or mulch to keep them from browning in the sun.Orion At 24 inches tall, this hybrid is one of the more compact bulb varieties, appreciated for being less leggy than taller cultivars.When you start with quality seed, cultivate during cool weather, provide rich soil that drains well, don’t overwater, and keep the garden free of weeds, pests and disease issues should be minimal.You may find that rabbits take quite an interest in your plants, but deer and groundhogs don’t seem to care for its aroma.If you decide you just can’t share, either pick them off by hand, or try adding a few attractions to the yard like a bird feeder or an inviting birdbath, and let avian visitors help keep them in check.These are primarily fungal conditions, with the exception of downy mildew, which is caused by a water mold called an oomycete.In light of this possibility, I recommend not taking the advice of some gardeners who suggest planting fennel beside rose bushes so the swallowtail caterpillars can eat the aphids that often plague them.You can pick the tender young shoots of common varieties to enjoy as tasty microgreens, while mature leaves are exceptional when chopped finely as a fresh herb.When harvesting, try not to take more than one-third of the entire plant at once to avoid shocking it into bolting, or prematurely running to seed.Plants may be able to tolerate a light frost, but if there’s a hard freeze predicted, harvest what you can in a hurry, including digging up the roots to use as you would carrots, if you’re so inclined.I like to slice the bulbs of Florence types in sections about an inch thick, and store them covered in water in an airtight container in the fridge.You can also store whole bulbs in the fridge for three to five days, or up to a week and a half if you place a damp paper towel over them.Snip off the feathery foliage you want for use in salads and as fragrant garnishes, or toss it into savory cooked dishes as you would with dill.Pollen scraped and gathered from dry flowers saves well in a sealed jar for approximately two years.From flowers, foliage, and pollen, to bulbs, seeds, roots, and the extraction of essential oils, F.
vulgare varieties offer much to the home cook.And, the aromatic essential oils released from the chemical compounds, including anethole and fenchole, do indeed possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and promote digestion, just as the ancients believed.If you’ve never liked brussels sprouts, then you haven’t tried them al dente, cooked with bacon, and flavored with the taste of fennel and fresh dill. .
How to grow fennel: as a herb or vegetable
Not only do fennel's aniseed notes add a delicious, aromatic flavor to food, but the plant also has medicinal properties, in particular aiding digestion.Both are worth including in your list of kitchen garden ideas as they will enhance so many dishes, from fish and vegetables to curries, soups and sauces.‘Fennel serves a dual purpose in a kitchen garden as it adds scent and texture, and also looks lovely as an airy infill in a cut bouquet.’.‘Incorporate plenty of organic matter into the soil.’ Create rows or drills around half an inch deep and 15in apart.Once the plants are established, fennel does not require a lot of attention – water only as needed, and particularly in hot weather, and fertilize occasionally.Fennel is one of those vegetable garden ideas that takes a little work and attention but is more than worth the effort.The issue with fennel bulbs is they they are prone to bolting, meaning the plant will flower and go to seed too quickly.To prevent fennel bulbs from bolting, choose a bolt-resistant variety, avoid sowing seed too early or transplanting the seedlings, and keep the soil moist.When it comes to selecting a type of fennel, you can choose from the herb or bulb variety – both share a sweet aniseed flavor.For bulb or Florence fennel, try Perfection, Zefa Fino, Sirio, Romanesco, and Dragon.The plants' feathery leaves make a striking feature, and you can keep them close to hand on the patio.'If you are interplanting with another crop – say, lettuces – make sure you leave enough space for the fennel to grow without being smothered.Every part of a fennel plant is edible, from the frothy fronds to the earthy roots, which are great roasted or cooked into dishes.When the plants are small, slugs and snails can be an issue, so protect them with barriers or biological controls.Aphids can also cause issues – keep them at bay by making a spray with water and a weak concentration of dish soap.To grow fennel bulbs takes around 3 months from sowing until the plant is ready to harvest, depending on the variety.Fennel is considered a bad companion plant as it can have a negative impact on other herbs and vegetables.'Though fennel is beautiful, edible and attracts pollinators, it needs to be planted separately or with ornamentals as it can inhibit the growth of vegetables,' says Clapp. .
All About Growing Fennel – Mother Earth News
Fast to flower, all types of fennel produce hard, plump seeds that can be used as a spice, or brewed into a stomach-soothing tea often recommended for colicky babies.In addition, a half teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds included in the cooking water will reduce the gas-provoking compounds in cabbage, broccoli and onions.In most climates, bulb fennel or finocchio can be grown twice a year, in spring and fall, on a growing and planting schedule similar to that of broccoli.Start bulb fennel seeds indoors in early spring, about 8 weeks before your last frost, and set them out under cloches when they have one true leaf.Keep bulb fennel seedlings carefully weeded, and drench plants with a liquid organic fertilizer when they are 12 inches tall.Bulb fennel plants grown in spring do not get extremely large, and should be harvested before the weather turns hot.If you cut the bulb high, so that the root and the base of the bulb remain in the soil, the stub will regrow a couple of small crowns with miniature fennel fronds — nice little tidbits to include in packets of frozen garden veggie mixtures.With half of their tops trimmed off, fennel bulbs will keep in plastic bags in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. .
How to Grow Fennel
Common Name Fennel, sweet fennel, common fennel Botanical Name Foeniculum vulgare Family Apiaceae Plant Type Perennial, herb Size 4–6 feet tall, 1.5–3 ft. wide Sun Exposure Full sun Soil Type Moist, well-drained Soil pH Acidic (5.5–6.8) Bloom Time Summer Hardiness Zones 4–9 (USDA) Native Area Mediterranean.Fennel should not be planted in the same area as dill or coriander, as cross-pollination can occur and affect the flavor of the seeds.Plants should be spaced around 6 to 12 inches apart, and they typically won't need a support structure.Fennel prefers full sunlight, meaning at least six hours of direct sun on most days.Water whenever the soil feels dry about an inch down, but don’t allow the plant to become waterlogged.Gardeners in mild climates are sometimes able to plant in the late summer for a fall harvest as long as the temperature remains fairly warm.The plant grows best in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and in moderate humidity levels.The main species plant, common or herb fennel, doesn't produce much of a bulb and is typically grown for its foliage.'Zefa fino' is a large variety that's ready for harvest in 80 days and is bolt resistant.'Orion' is ready to harvest in 80 days and has large, thick, rounded bulbs with a crisp texture.An unglazed clay container is ideal to allow excess soil moisture to escape through its walls.Watch for seed heads to form on a mature fennel plant at the end of its growing season.Store the seeds in an airtight labeled container, and plant them in the garden the following spring.Soak seeds in water for a day or two prior to planting to speed up germination.Seeds also can be started indoors about four weeks before your last projected frost date in the spring under grow lights.Be sure to gradually acclimate indoor seedlings to outdoor conditions before planting them in the garden after the weather warms.For container growth, aim to choose a pot that will accommodate the plant's mature size right from the start to avoid having to repot.If frost is expected in your area, go ahead and harvest the rest of your fennel plant.In mild climates, fennel plants can be overwintered for a second growing season, but they usually degrade after that.Fennel rarely suffers from serious pest or disease problems, though caterpillars might chew on the leaves.Most often, they are parsley worm caterpillars, which evolve into black swallowtail butterflies, beneficial pollinators for the garden.You can, therefore, choose to ignore these green caterpillars with black and yellow bands if they're not causing a major issue.
Growing fennel — bulb, herb, pollen
Pam is the garden manager at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia.Many people grow fennel as the herb, for leaves and seeds, for salads, soups, fish dishes and teas.The worst disease is root rot, which can happen if your plants get waterlogged for too long.Here in zone 7, we sow Zefa Fino March 10, for April 10-26 transplanting, along an edge of a bed with parsnips, celery and (later) asparagus beans.If your climate and timing give you the choice, direct sow and thin, rather than transplanting, to reduce the likelihood of bolting.In northern latitudes, gardeners wait till the summer solstice to sow any bulb fennel.Transplant outdoors in mid-spring to late summer when plants are 3-4” tall, and 4-6 weeks old, before they become root-bound, and when they can be removed easily without disturbing the roots.The plants will grow 36” tall or more, and the stems and delicate foliage can be eaten or made into teas.Zefa Fino is more tolerant of stress than some of the traditional Italian varieties, so if your climate or timing is borderline, try this one.Preludio and Orazio (both 80 days) are F1 hybrids from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, that have a higher yield potential than open pollinated fennels.The two seasons for planting bulb fennel in zone 7 are March-April and July-August – the same dates that work for broccoli, beets and other cool weather crops.Rich, well-drained soil, regularly irrigated, and cool temperatures produce top quality bulbs.Mulching (with organic materials such as straw or hay) can be a good strategy to trap soil moisture and cooler temperatures in spring – the bulbs will be sweeter and more tender.If you leave them to grow larger, the plants will probably bolt and the flavor of the bulbs will quickly become bitter.Use a sharp knife or pruners to cut the bulb free just above taproot, right at the soil line.Bulb fennel is high in vitamin C, and is also a good source of calcium, fiber and potassium.According to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange www.southernexposure.com, medicinally, fennel stimulates digestion while reducing the likelihood of flatulence.Because it is an uncommon crop in this country, it is probably wise to offer your customers some guidelines on how to prepare and eat it.The color of the small seedlings of bronze fennel renders them almost invisible, so take care when weeding.Fennel can be overwintered in mild areas (Zones 7-10) to provide seed the second summer.The feathery foliage has a sweet anise flavor and is a tasty addition to salads, cole slaw, and dressings.Fennel seeds are used in teas and tinctures as a digestive aid, expectorant, and a tonic for the spleen, kidneys, and reproductive system.Johnny’s warns that too much moisture at bloom time can prevent the formation of a good crop of seeds.Spread the freshly gathered seeds (plump and grey-green) in a single layer on a horizontal window screen.The feathery seedlings make an attractive ingredient for microgreen mixes and plate garnishes.Johnny’s sells a special variety called Grosfruchtiger for microgreens, although any kind can be used.In addition to producing pollen, fennel flowers come in small clusters that many beneficial insects like ladybugs like to feed upon.On the other hand, there's a pretty good chance that if you grow fennel on your farm, it will go to seed at some point, and here's how to harvest it.Tie the bags closed and hang them in a cool, dark and dry area with the stems pointing up.Tap the sides of the bags every couple of days for two weeks as the flowers dry.Tip the fennel pollen and other plant matter from the bag into a fine mesh strainer resting over a bowl or bucket.Sift the pollen through the sieve, to remove the other plant matter and the larger tiny wildlife.If you need to kill any teeny tiny wildlife, you can microwave the pollen for 10 seconds.Collecting one ounce can take an hour, so a selling price of $15 suddenly doesn’t seem outrageous. .
How To Grow Fennel
Native to Mediterranean region, the bulbous base and stalk is popular eaten raw like celery, cooked, or boiled.Closely related to Parsley, Fennel is popular in Italian and other Mediterranean recipes.Also called Florence Fennel or Finuccio, it is easy to grow and very hardy, lasting well after the first frost.With bright green, fern-like leaves and aromatic yellow flowers, this plant will grow three to four feet tall.Directly sow Fennel seeds into your garden as early in the season as the ground can be worked.Fennel can be started off indoors in mid May and sown until late June.Cover the seeds with another layer of compost then scrape across the top of the tray with a stick to remove excess.A good tip is to use a plastic bottle with small holes punched in the cap.When growing seedlings indoors you be careful they don't get leggy, i.e. long spindly plants.You can make a makeshift light box by placing a sheet of reflective tinfoil on the room side of the seedling tray.You do need to be careful, however, not to let the compost plug completely dry out or it will form a crust on top and won't absorb the moisture the next time you water.You can leave the cloche off the plants on dry frost free days and replace at night.Gradually increase the time with the cloche removed until the end of the week when you leave it off day and night.If the weather is mild you may not need the cloche, just move the plants outside for longer periods each day.If you have started your seeds on a windowsill you will need to leave them in an unheated room for a day or two before moving outside to the cloche.You can plant out your fennel seedlings 4 or 5 weeks after your sowing date providing the weather id good.Don't firm down on the top of the soil as this can compact it and prevent moisture getting down to the plants roots.If carrot root fly is a major problem in your garden it can also affect fennel.Fungal disease can be a problem for some crops and weeds can contribute to this by cutting down the air circulation around your plants.This is because it breaks up the top layer of the soil and lets air and moisture circulate freely.The added moisture and air speeds up microbial activity which breaks down organic matter and releases nutrients to your plants roots.They are very hardy and should continue to thrive and grow, even after a number of hard frosts. .
How to Grow Bulb Fennel
The longest day of the year marks a distinct turning point in the gardener’s calendar, with summer well and truly in command and, hopefully, the first flush of harvests coming and thick and fast if not already snaffled up.With the likes of early peas and potatoes, broad beans and carrots lifted and plucked, the first free gaps on the plot will be making an appearance round about now.Of course, no vegetable grower worth his salt needs reminding that this is the perfect signal to sow and plant once more, for crops that will be enjoyed in a few months’ time and on into fall.For me, spring is very much a mad rush to get everything up and running before the really good growing weather arrives; starting off veg from midsummer is a more relaxed affair – a far cry from the sprinter’s pace of those earlier sowings.The handsome feathery foliage of this crop is matched only by its exquisite aniseed flavour that makes a fine pairing with fish (try baking parcels of mackerel with slices of fennel and lemon for a sublime dinner). .