How to Grow Fennel

Florence fennel is attractive enough to grow as an ornamental grass and can be regularly resown for a steady supply.
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Florence Fennel Produces Ornamental Foliage

Florence Fennel Produces Ornamental Foliage

Florence fennel is an annual which is known mainly for the stem that swells to a bulb as it grows. It is similar to celery and can be used raw or cooked. It is very popular in Italian cooking.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • fennel seeds
  • soil
  • small pots
  • sharp knife

Step 1: Plant Fennel Seeds

Mix Seed with Potting Soil for Starter

Mix Seed with Potting Soil for Starter

Mix seeds with potting soil before spreading.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

This choice vegetable prefers a sunny, sheltered location and moist, rich soil, improved with lots of well-rotted organic matter ­— less than optimal conditions will cause the plants to bolt. Sow indoors into small pots to avoid disturbing the roots when transplanting, or sow outside when all risk of frost has passed. Harden off indoor-grown seedlings, and plant them out in late spring, spacing plants 12 inches apart.

Step 2: Regularly Water Plants

Use Watering Can with Fine Spray on Potting Mix

Use Watering Can with Fine Spray on Potting Mix

Use a watering can with a fine spray to dampen the potting soil once seeds are planted.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Water plants especially during dry spells, keeping the soil permanently moist. Watering will also help to prevent bolting. Weed often, and cover the stems with soil as they grow to blanch and make them sweeter.

Step 3: Harvest the Plants

Florence Fennel Produces Ornamental Foliage

Florence Fennel Produces Ornamental Foliage

Florence fennel is an annual which is known mainly for the stem that swells to a bulb as it grows. It is similar to celery and can be used raw or cooked. It is very popular in Italian cooking.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Florence fennel is ready to harvest about 12 weeks from sowing; when the stems are about the size of tennis balls. Don’t allow them to grow larger, or they will become tough.

Step 4: Consider Resprouting

Resprout Fennel by Cutting Swollen Stems to Root

Resprout Fennel by Cutting Swollen Stems to Root

To resprout fennel, cut the swollen stems off just above ground level with a sharp knife. Leave the roots in the ground to regrow and produce a second crop of leaves.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Instead of harvesting fennel by pulling it straight from the ground, cut the swollen stems off just above ground level with a sharp knife. Unless you need the space for other crops, leave the roots in the ground to regrow and produce a second crop of leaves.

Step 5: Keep the Stumps Well Watered

Fennel Produces New Shoots After Resprouting Bulbs

Fennel Produces New Shoots After Resprouting Bulbs

Cut fennel bulb just above soil level, leaving the stump in the ground. This will usually throw up further small feathery shoots, which can be used in salads.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Within two weeks, the plant will produce new shoots. Although these won’t grow into full-sized bulbs before fall, the tasty, feathery leaves can be used fresh as an herb in soups and salads.

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