Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fennel

Throughout March, I'll be posting about different vegetables. This is for my own reference, and chance for us to share experiences or ask questions. I appreciate your input and any questions for me or other gardeners that you also have about the subject vegetable.

Fennel; Florence Fennel; Foeniculum vulgare

Above photo from July 31, 2007. See the sweet seedling photo, here.

My first experience with fennel was in a restaurant in York, England. It was cooked with other vegetables and served with a meat dish. It was tasty and we asked to be sure what it was we were eating.

When I read about growing it, it sounded versatile and not too difficult: eat the refreshing licorice flavored foliage, stalks, bulbs, seeds. My type of plant. 2007 was my first season and I will be growing it again. Did I have beginner's luck?

Do you grow fennel, or not grow fennel, for any specific reason?

Variety I'm growing: Perfection, organic, from Territorial Seed Company
Days to Maturity: 75
Soil temp for germination: 55-70 F

Seeded: Indoors in early March 2007. I used small but deeper pots to give the roots room. Looks like it will be mid March 2008. I will also plan to succession plant fennel this year, to spread out the harvest.

Planted out: Moved to semi protected cloche in mid/late April 2007, planted April or early May. May be able to start a fall crop in July. Heat can make it bolt. Doesn't mind a light frost.

Harvested: First one in July. Others followed, though the last one went to seed. I hope it self-sowed too.

Saving seeds: Should work. Seeds are similar to dill.

Eating: Baked/roasted bulb & stalks; feathery foliage, skinny stalks and raw bulb in a salads. Lately, I had a store bought one that we added to soup and it was very tasty and tender this way.

8 comments:

Nicole said...

This is my first successful year growing fennel. This time I used seeds from the spice jar, rather than packets, and sowed them close to each other, so they didn't blow over. They are about 6 inches now and I look forward to snipping the leaves regularly.

Petunia's Gardener said...

Nicole, Sounds like you are set for fennel leaves. Do you think this will be the type of fennel that will also produce a "bulb" at the base of the plant? I know there are the different types, but I'm not sure which is typically used to produce spices. Don't you just love the aroma?
Thanks for visiting - Paula

Nicole said...

Thanks, Petunia
I don't know whether it is the bulb producing type, but I am hoping! Yes, the seeds, leaves and bulbs all smell heavenly.

Amy U. said...

I'll be trying fennel for the first time this year. Thanks for the great post!

Playing in the Dirt

Matron said...

Your fennel looks terriffic! I tried to grow it one year and the bulbs just did not swell. They were just the size and shape of a single stick of celery. I have bought some seeds and will try again this year, perhaps spacing them further apart. What spacing do you recommend? PS.. I love York too!

Petunia's Gardener said...

Matron,
I wonder if you had the sweet fennel that doesn't produce a bulb. It often seems fennel isn't differentiated in books or packets, though one book I have said plant sweet fennel 6 inches apart and Florence fennel 10-12 inches apart. Mine were about 10-12 inches apart.

Amy, I hope you enjoy it. The little seedlings are so cute and then the foliage quickly becomes useful.
Paula

Matron said...

Aha! this picture inspired me to go away and look up fennel in my books. Yes there are different varieties, some swell to bulbs, some for foliage. I forgot that last Summer I bought a packet of Florence Fennel (bulb fennel) in the market in Funchal, Madeira. Actually the name 'Funchal' means fennel in Portugese.. so it should be good!

Bonny said...

What's wrong with using seed packets for growing fennel vegetable?