Sweet fennel

The cultivation of Florence fennel in the garden

Florence fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare ) is the type of fennel bulb that is consumed as a vegetable. All parts of the plant are fragrant and can be used in culinary applications. The cultivation of fennel in Florence began with the Greeks and Romans and has traveled through the ages to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Growing fennel in your garden is an easy way to incorporate this versatile and aromatic plant into your recipes and home.

Florence fennel plantation

Fennel grows quickly in well-drained soil and in a sunny spot. Check the pH of the soil before planting Florence fennel. Fennel requires soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, so it may be necessary to add lime to increase the pH. Sow seeds 18 to ¼ deep. Thin out the plants after germination at a distance of 6 to 12 cm. The cultivation of fennel after germination depends on whether the plant is used for bulbs, stems or seeds.

Before planting Florence fennel, it is good to know the date of the last frost in your area. Sow after this date to avoid damaging the new tender seedlings. You can also get a fall harvest by planting six to eight weeks before the first frost.

How to grow Florence fennel

Fennel is a common ingredient in curry and the seed gives Italian sausage its main flavor. It has been cultivated as part of the Mediterranean diet since the 17th century. Fennel from Florence has many medicinal properties and is found in cough drops and digestive aids, to name just two. The plant is also attractive and the cultivation of Florence fennel among perennials or flowers adds a charming accent with its delicate foliage.

Florence fennel produces a beautiful feathery green foliage that gives an ornamental interest to the garden. The foliage gives off an aroma reminiscent of aniseed or liquorice. The plant is perennial and tends to spread and can become invasive if the seed head is not removed. Florence fennel grows best in cooler climates and temperate regions.

Start harvesting the fennel stems when they are almost ready to flower. Cut them in the ground and use them as celery. Florence fennel will ripen to produce a thick white base called an apple. Pile some soil around the swollen base for 10 days, then harvest.

If you grow Florence fennel as a seed, wait until late summer, when the vegetable will produce umbel flowers that will dry out and hold the seed. Cut off the worn flower heads and shake the seeds in a container. Fennel seed gives food an incredible taste and aroma.

Varieties of Florence fennel

There are many bulb cultivars that produce fennel. Trieste is ready for use 90 days after planting. Another variety, Zefa Fino, is perfect for short season climates and can be harvested in only 65 days.

Most varieties of Florence fennel need 100 days to ripen.

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