Want to try growing fennel from seeds this spring growing season? Fennel is such a versatile vegetable-it’s delicious, nutritious, and beautiful enough to be ornamental, so it definitely deserves a thumbs up. I’ve decided to grow fennel myself and this growing guide has been immensely helpful
All You Need To Know About Growing Fennel
I highly recommend fennel for its versatility and nutritional value. This is one vegetable which I suspect will become a mainstay on my list of veggies to grow in spring. As I’ve mentioned, I’m an amateur myself in growing fennel, but check out these simple steps and interesting tips and we can go through it together!
Fennel is one of the few hardy, perennial vegetables and is a member of the carrot family, along with parsley and dill. It has a bulbous base and feathery leaves with yellow flowers and aromatic seeds. Amazingly, all the plant’s parts have culinary and medicinal uses. The swollen stem or bulb is prepared as a vegetable, while the delicately-flavored leaves are prepared like herbs. Its seeds, on the other hand, have an anise-like flavor, which makes them perfect for sweet desserts and other recipes.
Birds, Butterflies, And Fennel
Attractive butterflies, such as the old-world swallowtail and the anise swallowtail butterfly, use fennel as a plant food. Swallowtail butterflies may even lay eggs and feed on your fennel plants. But you will also find butterflies and bees visiting fennel for the sweet nectar. Birds like Bushtit, Willow Warbler, and Chiff Chaffs may also be attracted to fennel seeds. Welcome these delightful creatures over to your garden for a nature retreat.
When To Grow Fennel
Timing is important when growing fennel outdoors, especially if you want the plant to grow bulbs before bolting stunts bulb growth. Although fennel is a hardy spring vegetable plant, you would do well to plant it outdoors only once all danger of frost has passed in your zone. But, you may start seeds indoors under grow lights 4 weeks before the last frost.
Where To Grow Fennel
Since fennel is a perennial vegetable, it tends to self-seed, coming back year after year. For this, you must pick a permanent spot for your fennel plant bed. It has to be situated in an area that receives full day sun.
What Fennel Variety To Grow
There are three common fennel types, the Sweet fennel, bronze fennel, and the most common, Florence fennel variety. If you want to grow fennel for its bulb then should plant Florence fennel, annually. The bronze fennel variety is effective for perennial planting, while sweet Fennel is preferred for its licorice-flavored seeds and leaves.
How To Grow Fennel From Seeds
Transplanting fennel can be somewhat difficult, so it’s ideal to sow fennel seeds directly on their plant beds once the weather allows it. But if you want to get a head start in growing fennel, you may also start seeds in seed-starting kits.
Step One: Preparing Plant Bed
Fennel originated on the shores of the Mediterranean, so they will grow best in a sandy loam soil. Pick an unshaded area to plant fennel permanently. Spread a thick layer of compost in your plant bed since fennel roots deeply. Till the soil to mix compost and garden soil since cultivating is discouraged once the plants have been established.
Step Two: Sowing Fennel Seeds
Unlike celery seeds, fennel seeds are larger and can easily be dropped individually in seed-starting pots or in the plant bed. Dig holes 9 to 12 inches apart in the plant bed for transplanting, then simply set the seedlings in the holes. For direct-sowing, you can simply spread the seeds and cover them with about an eighth of an inch of compost. You can thin them later once they’ve reached 3 to 4 inches in height.
Step Three: Fennel Plant Care
Luckily, fennel is easy to maintain and care for. Fennel bulbs can be prone to rot, so while they need plenty of water, your soil must have a good drainage and the roots allowed to dry in between watering. Fennel is mostly prepared fresh so it’s important to refrain from using pesticides. The natural environment will supply proper nutrients for the fennel, and beneficial insects will get attracted to it to prey on its pests.
How To Grow Fennel In Containers
Roots of fennel tend to grow deep so it’s actually ideal to grow fennel in plant beds outdoors. However, you can still grow fennel in containers, provided space is sufficient and it is at least 12 inches deep. Prepare the containers with the ideal rich loam soil. If you want your fennel to grow large bulbs, the plants have to be widely spaced. If you can do without the large bulbs, you can group together a few more in a container for the leaves and seeds.
Regrowing Fennel Roots
Fennel grows offshoots from the roots which may even be divided. But fennel doesn’t divide well since they don’t like their roots disturbed. You can leave the offshoots, however, once the main bulb is ready for harvest. Harvest the bulb from the base by cutting it off just above the soil line, leaving the offshoots to grow.
Growing Fennel Greens From Scrap
You can regrow the lower part of the base of fennel bulbs. Place the fennel stump in a bowl with dechlorinated water and put it in a sunny windowsill. Change the water as often as needed so the water is kept clean to prevent the stump from rotting. and watch out for the shoots in a few days. You can keep growing fennel indoors in water or you can plant it in a container. Find out what other fruits and vegetables you can regrow from scraps here.
Tips For Growing Fennel
Fennel can be invasive since it easily propagates from seed. If you want to grow fennel annually, collect the seeds and store them for natural flavoring, breath freshener, and to plant the next season. Don’t grow fennel with dill or coriander as they tend to cross-pollinate and produce bland-tasting seeds. Just like celery, you can also blanch the bulbs or stem to keep it white and sweet-tasting by covering the base with soil.
For more tips, watch Jamie Oliver talk about the fennel from his garden in this video
Now you know how to grow fennel from seeds. Have a great time growing fennel, green thumbs!
Care to try growing fennel in your garden this season? Share your thoughts about it in the comments section below.