To sow, feed your soil well with compost or well-rotted manure and rake it to a fine tilth. It’s really important to keep the fennel well watered; if conditions are too dry they will bolt. Varieties that have won the RHS Award of Garden Merit will generally give consistent good results, Our bestselling books for growing success! Once the baby fennel is cooked (to add extra flavour to the fennel bulb you could barbecue or char on a griddle after steaming), spread the crème fraîche mixture over the centre of a plate, remove fennel from foil bag and place on top of crème fraîche. You can make an early April sowing of fennel in modules but I don’t recommend this. Dig For Victory; Monthly Guides & Commentary. Dried dill leaves are called dill weed and are very subtle in flavor. Florence fennel can be eaten raw, braised, casseroled or boiled. Both types of fennel need a sunny, well-drained soil which has had humus or other organic matter added during the previous winter. For this reason the seeds are best started off in situ from the beginning of June to July. Please check back later. Harvest fresh leaves during the growing season or gather seeds late summer for pickling or infusing. Distance between 2 or more plants must be kept at 50cm to avoid competition for root growth and water uptake. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium and vitamin C. Do not grow fennel and dill close together as they may cross-fertilise and thus affect their taste, Grow fennel away from other plants as it is known to inhibit some plants’ growth. If your fennel bulb does go to seed (which unless you’re the luckiest gardener in Britain, a few will) don’t give up, they produce lovely yellow flowers which have lots of culinary uses. Plants under stress may bolt pre-maturely; creating smaller plants, so plants must be kept well watered within reason. Fennel has two main types – common fennel, and florence fennel – which are not to be confused. If you let the flowers produce seeds you can dry them and use them for cooking. It appears that your basket is currently empty! Truly Padstow on a plate! Cut down fennel in June if you don't want it to go to seed and it will grow again giving good tasting foliage for longer. Although large fennel bulbs do have a place in the culinary world the baby fennels that I grow at Padstow Kitchen Garden not only have a slightly sweeter flavour but they shouldn’t run to seed either. Spread crab over fennel, sprinkle with remaining red chilli, and garnish with a few sprigs of the fennel top. Fennel is a short lived perennial that blooms best in the second year. Let them grow, but if they start growing taller rather than rounder, harvest before they go to seed and leave a horrible core through the centre of the bulb. Lift up the four corners of the foil, pour in white wine and seal up the foil into a bag, allowing space around the fennel. Fennel is just as easy to grow now as it was way back when it was used to ward off witchcraft Phil Daoust Sat 28 Jun 2014 02.00 EDT First published on Sat 28 Jun 2014 02.00 EDT Fennel has a strong anise flavour and a tendency to run to seed. Thinning allows the bulbs left in the ground to grow a bit larger, but continue to harvest at any stage, depending on what size you prefer. A three-week gap between sowings should give you good continuity from June until November. Fennel, Unlike its sibling Florence Fennel with displays swollen base stems; this common or sweet fennel makes a very attractive tall feathery feature plant (bronze variety almost glistens in lowlight) in any herb or herbaceous garden border displaying large umbels of yellow flowers which can be harvested and served on drinks; but mainly it’s the dried seeds that are collect and used to give its more pronounced aniseed flavour. I prefer to make my first sowing in early May and my final sowing in late July. by email twice a month, Grow Your Own – Allotment – Gardening Help, Florence fennel varieties include Amigo (RHS Award of Garden Merit), Common fennel is usually green-leaved, but purple/bronze leaved varieties can also be found, There are few pests which attack fennel, apart from aphids, It can bolt if it gets too dry or too cold, so do not sow too early and ensure it is kept well-watered. Cut just above soil level and underneath the base with a sharp knife. Florence fennel is grown for its swollen bulb and eaten as a vegetable, whereas common (or sweet) fennel is a tall (up to 180cm) perennial herb grown for its seeds and feathery foliage and is often used as a substitute for dill. He introduced me to Ross and his produce. The Fennel fronds are incredibly fragrant and lend themselves well to accompanying pesto dishes…when next roasting a chicken, create a Fennel bed under the chicken and it will infuse an amazing aroma in the chicken…Fennel make a great companion for cucumbers in a simple salad served with a vinaigrette dressing. But if you grow fennel right you can have three crops for the price of one – a beautiful herb (the green fernlike fronds), a crunchy bulb and a root that tastes similar to a sweet parsnip. The Cornish chef turned veg grower explains how he produces menu-fit baby fennel, Rick loves to use fresh fennel in the kitchen, The best gardening books to buy for Christmas 2020, picked by our experts, How do plants recover from accidental damage? Fennel self sows very easily so if you don't want lots of little seedlings make sure all the flowers are removed before going to seed. Herb fennel is an ancient plant, grown by the Greeks and Romans and mentioned widely in the literature of the time. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. Visit and We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. And if you do dig up a huge bulb that has gone to seed you can always try chopping it up and using it in a fish stock. Cut the tops off the baby fennel around the bulb, ensuring you leave the root attached. Monty Don: How To Sow A Wildflower Meadow. Both qualities make some people wary of it. If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides. When fennel is dried it retains its flavor profile. Sow Florence fennel seeds successionally between May – June, 2cm deep in rows 38-45cm apart, thinning to 30cm between plants as they grow larger, If you wish, you can earth the bulbs up when the bulbs are the size of golf balls in order to make them more white, Individual fennel plants can also be grown in large pots, The leaves can be harvested whenever desired. Weeds must be kept away as they can cause competition for water and nutrients too. In a separate bowl mix white crabmeat with the remaining lemon juice, finely chop a tablespoon of fennel tops, 1 finely chopped spring onion and season to taste. Once your fennels are about 4in (10cm) tall (including the fronds) start the thinning-out process. Keep the tops to one side. But if you grow fennel right you can have three crops for the price of one – a beautiful herb (the green fernlike fronds), a crunchy bulb and a root that tastes similar to a sweet parsnip. Although fennel prefers poor dry growing conditions; in its early days, it requires moist fertile drained soil. Use a hoe or the edge of a rake to make a drill roughly 1in (2cm) deep, sprinkle the seeds into it roughly 1in (3cm) apart and lightly cover. The bulbs of florence fennel should be ready for harvest in August-October when they are no larger than the size of a tennis ball. Thin out to one per planting area. Best to direct sow in spring, where they are to grow by placing 2 or 3 seeds in a shallow hole, thinning out after suitable conditions allows for successful germination around 7-10 days time.