How to Grow Fennel: 8 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow
There are two sorts of fennel: one is classed as a herb, shoots up to about five feet and produces the leaves and seeds that are often used in fish recipes.
Its proper name is Foeniculum vulgare.
The fennel Foeniculum dulce (Florence fennel), which, if you get the growing conditions right, swells at the base to produce a vegetable with a strong aniseed flavour, wonderful braised in a gratin with tomato and cheese.
`Cantino' is good. So is `Zefa Fino' which is much better in cool climates than an authentic Italian strain such as `Di Firenze'.
Because Florence fennel is also sensitive to day length, the best time to sow is in mid June for an autumn crop.
RHS recommended varieties ‘Perfection’, ‘Cantino’ and ‘Amigo’ are bolt resistant.
Late variety ‘fennel of Parma’ by seedsofitaly.co.uk can be sown in late July/August to be harvested early winter.
Alpine fennel ‘fenchel’ also available.
Early sowings (April-May) are more likely to bolt.
If you sow in mid June, you should be able to harvest bulbs by mid October.
The best soil is light, sandy and well drained, but the bulbs must never be allowed to dry out. Put them top of the list if water is short.
- Consider an exclusive patch for your fennel as it is known to impede the growth of other plants.
- Fennel plants can be started from cuttings. Once a plant matures, the roots can be snipped and replanted.
- Be sure not to start your plants where any coriander, caraway or wormwood is growing as these will impede the fennel's growth.
- Fennel can be an integral part of an expectant or nursing mother's diet, as nutrients that are exclusive to this plant aid in milk production.
- Plant your fennel during the fall in warm climates, and during the spring in cooler places.
- Verify that your soil's pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0 as fennel grows best in less acidic soil.
- Fennel can grow up to five feet tall, which leaves the thin stems susceptible to breakage. Stake your fennel to support it against the wind.
- To thresh the seeds, slap the stalk against a hard surface.
- Creating your own compost will maintain the organic integrity of your plants, and is a wonderful way to benefit the environment.
- Mix any additives into the soil in advance, making certain that it has time to neutralize before planting season.
Dill is one of the few plants to grow with Fennel.
Why fennel is the gardener's friend - Telegraph By Francine Raymond.
As a vegetable, Florence fennel is more than versatile:
- braise or steam it then serve with fish or pork;
- deep fry it in light tempura batter;
- try it sliced with a mandolin with shaved Parmesan, or chopped as a crudité to dip in hummus.
My favourite dish is fennel bulbs caramelised in butter and sugar, then covered with goats’ cheese, scattered with roast fennel seeds and grilled.
Fennel loses its flavour soon after it has been cut. Revive it, packed in ice with a brief sojourn in the fridge.
I love pickled fennel, sliced finely then brined and steeped in cider vinegar with a little honey and fennel seeds.
Take two cups of fennel, combine with three teaspoons of salt in a bowl of iced water and leave to pickle for at least two hours.
Combine three-quarters of a cup of vinegar with half a cup of water, two tablespoons of honey and spices and bring to the boil.
Drain the fennel, rinse in water, pack in sterilised jars and cover with the cooled liquor.
Make sure your vegetables are completely immersed in the vinegar solution at all times.
Allow 2.5cm headroom above the vegetables, don’t be tempted to squash them down, and use vinegar-proof lids.
Leave to macerate for a month in a cool place, and keep in the fridge once opened.
As a herb, use stems and fronds to flavour any pork or fish dish.
Bake pieces of meat or fish in foil in the oven packed with fennel ferns, and barbecue fish on a bed of stems for a really intense flavour.
Use the seeds to make your own ras el hanout spice mix with garden lavender, bay leaves, fennel and cumin seeds, rose petals, nutmeg, cloves and peppercorns, roast then grind, to steep in oil, and then dip in chunks of crusty bread.
Mix the roasted seeds with black, pink and white peppercorns and salt to make a delicious crust on baked salmon, or combine with chilli in dark chocolate.
Umbelliferae are decorative garden plants, both Foeniculum vulgare and its bronze relation will seed and squeeze in readily all over the border, without elbowing out their companions.
Decorative cousins, the noble but inedible Ferula communis and tingitana ‘Cedric Morris’ are available from Great Dixter.
Even the wildlife love fennel, especially the foliage beloved by swallowtail caterpillars (and slugs) and the flowers adored by hoverflies and all sorts of beneficial insects.