Tag Archives: Fennel

Fennel – Under Used And Unappreciated

Fennel is a flowering plant species closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean. Use Fennel in soups, stews, salads, baked, broiled or eat them raw.

There are two types of fennel. One is treated as an herb (Foeniculum vulgare) and one that is treated like a bulb type vegetable (Florence fennel or Finocchio – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
The herb type grows 3-5 feet tall with fine textured foliage resembling dill. Flat topped clusters of yellow flowers appear in late summer. Stems, leaves and seeds of this type of fennel are harvested and used.
Florence fennel is shorter with darker green foliage and is grown for its large, flat thick rosette of petioles at the base often referred to as a “bulb.” Both forms have an anise or licorice flavor.

Fennel are grown from seed. Both types prefer a full sun location in soil that is well prepared with organic matter. This is especially important when growing Florence fennel as it prefers uniformly moist soil to develop the best “bulb.” Herb fennel is best direct sown in the garden in the spring after frost is past. It does not transplant well due to its tap root structure.

Florence fennel is also direct sown into the garden but seeding is best done from mid-June to July. This is done to allow the crop to develop during the cooler, shorter days of late summer and early fall. If planted earlier, long, hot days of summer result in plants bolting (flowering) thus reducing the quality of the “bulb.” Another important consideration for Florence fennel is maintaining uniform soil moisture. If soils are allowed to dry out, it will result in bolting and affect bulb quality. When “bulbs” start to swell and become the size of an egg, push soil around the “bulb.” This will produce a paler and tenderer “bulb.” This is a blanching process that is similar to what is done with leek.

Herb fennel can be harvested as needed by cutting away the feathery foliage. If seed is desired, allow the plant to flower and when the flower heads turn brown the plant can be cut, place in a paper bag and hung in a cool, well ventilated area to dry. Seeds will drop down into the bag and can then be cleaned and stored. Foliage can also be air dried and stored for later use.

Florence fennel can be harvested when the “bulbs” are about the size of tennis balls by digging the “bulb” and cutting off the root and cutting back the top. “Bulbs” can be stored in a cool location for several weeks.

Hint: Make any cabbage dish special by adding a bit of Fennel.

Fennel Popular Varieties
Herb Fennel Types
Sweet Fennel – Standard variety for fresh and dry leaf production.
‘Purpureum’ – A bronze leaf type. It is used as an ornamental.
‘Rubrum’ – A deep bronze to red leaf type. Also is used as an ornamental.

Florence Fennel Types
‘Rhondo’ – Uniform round bulbs, quick to mature.
‘Victoria’ – Vigorous type with grater resistance to bolting.
‘Cantino’ – A very slow to bolt variety good for early planting.
‘Mantavo’ – Good yield in slow bolting variety.

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Flower Gardens (pt3)

fennl in bloom Fennel (aka Sweet fennel, Wild fennel, Copper fennel, Bronze fennel)

The dark, fine-textured foliage of this perennial herb combined with its height (up to 6 feet tall) make it a great background for borders or herb gardens. It attracts beneficial insects and feeds the caterpillars that molt into swallowtail butterflies.

Fennel likes full sun and will grow in dry soils. It has a wide range and will tolerate pH levels from 4.5 to 8.3.
Fennel likes a rich, moist well drained soil, but will tolerate drought.

Sow seeds where you want them in the garden in spring or fall. You can also start seed indoors as well. Soak seed for 4 to 5 days to increase germination. Plants freely self reseed.

Cut plants back to force them to become bushier. If they get too leggy staking maybe required. Deadhead flowers to prevent reseeding. Some seeding is desirable to replace plants that die.

Flowers attract beneficial insects, so don’t cut them before they start to fade. Foliage is also a favorite food of the catepillars of swallowtail butterflies.

Cut plants back to the ground after hard freeze.
Caution Contact with plant juices can cause skin irritation.

flax blooming Flax (aka Blue Flax, Prairie Flax).
Flax is a clump forming perennial requires well drained soil. It has blue flowers and may bloom up to 12 weeks from early to mid-summer. It is a short lived plant but readily self-seeds.

Flax likes full sun, well drained soils and will tolerate hot weather and dry soils.
Flax will not overwinter in poorly drained soils.

Planting Flax is easy, sprinkle seed where you desire new Flax plants. Sprinkle to wet seed and soil. Don;t allow soil to become dry before seeds germinate. Trim Flax back after flowering to avoid leggy appearance and encourage new growth and flowering. Plant in masses to create spread.

Gaillardia (aka Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket)
Gaillardia provides dazzling summer color to the garden with striking blooms in combinations of red, yellow and orange offset by deep brown centers. Great for hot, dry sites.

Blanket Flower likes full sun, well drained soil and will tolerate poor dry soils.
Sow seed directly outdoors after the last frost. Do not cover the seeds they need light to germinate.
Seed germinates best from 60%F to 65%F. Seedlings will emerge in about 14 to 21 days.

Hollyhock in bloom Hollyhock is a biennial has tall spikes of single or double brightly colored flowers. Can be direct seeded (not flowering until the second year), and self re-seeds so readily that it appears to be a perennial once established in the garden.

Hollyhocks like full sun and a well drained soil. Sow seeds directly into your garden plot. Do Not cover seeds. Sprinkle to wet soil and seeds. Keep soil moist until seeds sprout in about 9 to 15 days.

Hollyhocks grow from 4 to 8 feet tall depending on variety. Plants spread 1 to 2 feet wide. Plant / thin plants so they are 18 to 24 inches apart. Hollyhocks bloom from mid-summer into late fall.
Flower may be 2 to 4 inches wide, single or double petal. Flower colors may be red, pink, yellow, violet or white.

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Vegetables You Should Consider Growing

kohlrabi Kohlrabi sometimes called German turnip or turnip cabbage. Is an annual a low, stout cultivar of cabbage. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked.

The taste and texture of kohlrabi is similar to broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet.

Kohlrabi – A few recommend Varieties

Variety Days to Harvest
Early White Vienna 55
Grand Duke 45
Purple Danube 40


Rutabaga Is sometimes called a turnip, Swedish turnip or yellow turnip. Tops and root can be eaten cooked or raw in salads.

It seems that from what I can find rutabaga is a cross between cabbage and turnips. The name Swede is used instead of rutabaga in many paret of the UK, including much of England, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand. The name turnip is also used in parts of Northern and Midland England, the West country (Cornwall), Ireland, Manitoba, Ontario and Eastern parts of Canada.


Variety Days to Harvest
American Purple Top 90

fennel Fennel is a flowering plant in the celery family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea coast and on riverbanks.

It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses and, along with the similar tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe.
Florence fennel or finocchio is a variety with a swollen, bulb like stem base that is used as a vegetable and can be eaten cooked or raw in salads.


Variety Days to Harvest
Trieste 90
Zefa Fino 65

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