Fennel, from seed to harvest

Fennel is a plant for which the roots are the part we eat and its nutritious and culinary value is exceptional. It is a very good summer vegetable.

Foremost fennel facts

Name – Foeniculum dulce
Family – Apiaceae (parsley family)
Type – biennial

 – 16 to 24 inches (40 to 60 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary to rich

Harvest – July to December, 3 months after sowing

Planting, sowing fennel

It is a good idea to sow in a sheltered place starting from the month of March and April and up till the month of July.

Fennel loves rather light, rich and relatively cool soil.

  • Favor sowing in a nursery if you’re sowing in March and April or sow directly in the plot during the month of May.
  • Dig furrows 2 inches (5 cm) deep every 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm).
  • Cover seeds with ½ inch (1 cm) soil.
  • Keep the soil mix a little moist and water regularly using a gentle drizzle after sprouting.
  • Once the first leaves have sprouted from the ground, thin down to about 8 inches (20 cm).
  • Transplant to the vegetable patch after the last frost spells, starting from the month of May.

It helps to enrich the soil with manure-based fertilizer in order to enhance growth.

  • It also is a good practice to ridge your plants as they grow, so that you may blanch their bulbs.
  • Stop ridging when the ridge is 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) tall.

Harvesting and keeping fennel

You can collect your fennel when you need it, depending on how large the heads have become.

Once the first frosts have hit, pull out all your fennel and keep it in a cool, ventilated and rather dark place.

The best way to keep your fennel is to store them in a cellar in crates filled with sand. If you haven’t any cellar, freeze them in a freezer.

Learn more about fennel

An excellent vegetable known for its nutritious value as well as its digestive and antioxidant properties, fennel is an admirable addition to most of the summer dishes you can prepare, and its aniseed-like flavor will enchant you.

So the health benefits of fennel are well acknowledged, and fennel is delicious when integrated into culinary recipes with its light aniseed taste.

Although the Mediterranean diet is where it is most present, fennel is grown more or less everywhere in mild climate regions.

Also, remember not to confuse fennel with dill because even though the two plants look alike and that dill is sometimes called the “bastard fennel”, they are quite different.

Smart tip about fennel

Collect all the small grains that appear at the end of the small yellow flowers and add them to your ‘Fleur de sel’ fine table salt.

They will flavor your dishes, especially your fish meals.

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