Fennel is an herb, all parts on the plant are edible -- the leaves, stems, seeds and roots. The swollen stems at the base of the plant are the part that we are concerned with here, and why fennel has been included in the list of 'Growing vegetables'. Fennel contains these nutrients: Calcium Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Folic acid, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Phytoestrogens, and has a subtle anise-like flavour and scent
It can be eaten raw as a salad herb or cooked and served with oil, butter or sauce. Fennel can be cooked simply by cutting the bulb into four, removing the centre core of each quarter, adding a little lemon juice and a small knob of butter and cooking it for about twenty minutes on the high setting in a microwave oven.
Cool weather is best for growing fennel. Seeds germinate best at soil temperatures of 61 to 64 F. The plant has a tendency to bolt (flower prematurely) in warm summer weather. When you are growing fennel for the bulb, select a variety that will grow for a long time before bolting in order to produce better-developed bulbs.
Fennel quickly develops a large taproot. The seed can be started indoors, then transplanted outside when quite small, but it is usually a better idea to plant the seeds directly out in the garden. Fennel can be planted either in early spring or in the autumn depending on the variety. The plant generally makes it through winter with no trouble, so seeds can even be planted in late autumn to get the plant growing very early in spring.
Fennel prefers frequent irrigation for rapid growth. Moisture stress causes the basal stalk to split. Fennel plants are believed to release a chemical that impairs the growth of some other plants, so it should not be grown very close to beans, tomatoes or members of the cabbage family.
Sow the seed in spring or autumn, the seeds should be sown in medium to light well-drained soil in a sunny location. Fennel thrives on well-drained loam soil. The seed are sown thinly in rows, which are 1 ft. (30cm) apart. Bulb fennel should be thinned to 10 to 14 in. (254mm-355mm) apart when the seedlings are large enough to handle.
Harvest just before flowering, lifting the plant, including the bulbs, roots, and some foliage. Finally, the fennel bulb, with some foliage, is cleaned of soil, washed, and can be stored in a cool place.
Fennel competes poorly with weeds. Aphids can cause severe damage so as soon as there is signs of aphids, use a garlic spray to disperse them.
Bulbous, Finacchio, or Florence fennel - Height: about 2 feet. (60cm) Is grown for its enlarged bulb.
Terry Blackburn. Internet Marketing Consultant, living in South Shields in the North-East of England. Author and Producer of blog www.lawnsurgeon.blogspot.com. Author of "Your Perfect Lawn," a 90 Page eBook devoted to Lawn Preparation, Lawn Care and Maintenance. Find it at www.lawnsurgeon.com
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