Also known as Finocchio. The wonderful fresh flavour of this easy-to-grow vegetable is prized in European cuisine. The swollen leaf bases have a distinctive anise flavour which enlivens salads and sandwiches. Cooked, the flavour stands out in casseroles or simply braised as a unique side dish. The seeds and fronds are also tasty, and beneficial insects love the flower heads. Fennel (as well as anise, star anise, and some other plants), contains the compound anethole, which is widely used as a liquorice flavouring. Anethole is thought to be 13 times sweeter than sugar. Continue reading below to learn how to grow Florence fennel from seed.
Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Start indoors 4 weeks before the last frost date in individual peat or coir pots. Fennel dislikes root disturbance. Transplant (or direct sow rows) 4 weeks after last frost in succession to mid-summer. Ideal temperature for germination: 15-21°C (60-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 10-14 days.
Sow seeds 1cm (1/2”) deep, a few seeds where each plant is to grow. Thin or space to 20-30cm (8-12”) in rows 45cm (18”) apart.
Days to Maturity: From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 5.5-7.0. Rich, well-drained soil produces the best bulbs. Transplant when seedlings are 5cm (2″) tall. If raising transplants, do not disturb the roots, as this may cause plants to bolt. Keep well watered to ensure succulent bulbs and prevent bolting.
Use a knife to slice the bulb from the root when it has thickened to 5cm (2″) or more across. If this is done carefully, smaller bulbs will sprout from the root later.
In optimal conditions 80% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 2 years. Per 100′ row: 240 seeds, per acre: 53M seeds.