Grow Your Own

Florence fennel

Florence fennel, a wonderfully ornamental vegetable, is grown for its swollen leaf bases or ‘bulbs’ and edible leaves. When using in salads, the flavour can be improved by slicing the bulb and putting it in a bowl of water and ice cubes in the fridge for an hour. Steam, grill or boil the ‘bulbs’ and serve with cheese sauce or butter; infuse the leaves in vinegar or add as garnish to salad.

Florence fennel

Grow

Provide plenty of moisture throughout the growing season, keep weed free and mulch to conserve moisture.

Earth up (mound soil) round the bulbs as they start to swell, from mid-summer until mid autumn, until the bulb is mature and about 7-10cm (3-4in across) to blanch bulb and to exclude autumn frosts.

Feed with high potassium fertiliser every two weeks once established.

The largest bulbs are formed in warm, sunny, moist summers.

Problems

Slugs and snails: These feed on the young seedlings and you'll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.

Remedy: There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers and copper tape.

More info at rhs.org.uk

Bolting: Plants flower and set seed, rather than producing edible roots. This is usually caused by stress – a cold spell or drought.

Remedy: Sow bolt-resistant varieties and keep the soil moist.

More info at rhs.org.uk

Small bulbs: Small bulbs grown; only a small part of the bulb is white.

Remedy: Ensure that they are earthed up properly and maintain moisture levels in the soil.

Harvesting

Around 20 days after ‘earthing up’, cut the bulbs off at ground level. They will then re-sprout and the small shoots can be used in salads.

Varieties

‘Heracles’ AGM: Fast maturing, with moderately sized, flattened bulbs.

‘Amigo’ AGM: Produces uniform, slightly flattened bulbs. Bolting resistant.

‘Cantino’: Has a refreshing aniseed flavour. Bolting resistant.

'Perfection’: Produces medium sized bulbs with a delicate aniseed flavour. Resistant to bolting and ideal for early sowing.


Do now

  • Sow seeds indoors
  • Thin out seedlings
  • Harvest leaves from established plants

Month by month

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