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Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

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Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  middlemamma on 6/10/2011, 2:08 am

I was yawning and just headed for a nice hot shower and my warm bed when I remembered I had promised to write the rookie topic this week!!!

So I decided to write it on Fennel. Similarly to the article I wrote on Sunchokes, Fennel is yet another vegetable/herb I want to grow but have not yet.



Fennel is native to the Mediterranean but is now grown worldwide. It can grow to 5 feet in height, it has feathery leaves that are dark green and it is very aromatic. It's flowers are a beautiful yellow. The seeds can be gathered in the fall.



The stalks and bulbous base can be eaten raw like celery cooked or boiled, as a vegetable while the seeds and leaves are used as herbs, to flavor food.

Because of the light black licorice flavor, the plants is often thought to be related to anise but is actually related to caraway and parsley.

Historically fennel is one of the oldest cultivated plants and was kept in the medicinal arsenal of many civilizations. The Romans valued it greatly sending it with their warriors for good health while the women stayed home and used it for weight loss. The Romans also believed it to be good for their eyesight. It was one of the 9 sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxons. In 812 Charlemagne declared it was essential in every garden because of its healing properties. The Greeks name for Fennel is "marathon" meaning "to grow thin". The plant had a reputation for slimming the middle.

Also called Florence Fennel or Finuccio, it seems to be very easy to grow and very hardy, lasting well after the first frost. It is said that it doesn't play nice with others so it was recommended to plant in pots and place away from the general garden area, or to pick a spot in the back of your garden area away from the general plant population.

Directly sow into the garden as early in the season as the soil can be worked. Cover with 1/4" of soil spacing the plants 10"-12" apart. A mid summer planting can be started for harvesting in the fall. They love full sun and well drained soil.

Fennel is perennial and will come back every year. If growing this vegetable in cooler climates, cut the plant down to
about 8” tall in the fall to help it winter over and to prepare it to
grow again in the spring.

To get the bulbous white part at the bottom you can blanch the stem by mounding dirt up at the base once the plant is 2 inches in diameter.
You can harvest the leaves at any time. Seeds should be harvested after
the flower head has died, extract the seeds and dry them in a cool dry
area. The bulbs can be harvested at tennis ball size or bigger.

Roasted Fennel (Recipe from www.simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise in 1-inch thick pieces
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with silpat or aluminum foil. Lay out the pieces of fennel and roast for 30-40
minutes, or until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to
caramelize.

Here is a link to a article written about Fennel from the culinary perspective, I thought it was very good and has links to several more recipes.
http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/discovering-fennel-00400000001166/

Here is another link that has several yummy sounding Fennel Recipes including a Fennel and Fava Bean salad that sounds divine!

After doing the research and reading about how hardy Fennel is I will plant mine tomorrow!

A few times Fennel has popped up on the forum:



http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4514-fennel


http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t5586-fennel


It has been said that there are two different kinds of Fennel, one that is used as an herb and one that bulbs up (Florence Fennel) for use as a veggie. I was unable to confirm that info in my research...if anyone has any links to that info in particular please share so my rookie topic will be complete. Smile Thank you!



Enjoy!

middlemamma
 
 

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  shannon1 on 6/10/2011, 3:04 am

They are really beautiful plants. Another great article cheers thank you MM. Is it true that dill and fennel cross? That is one of the reasons I never tried to grow it. I love my dill seeds and weeds.

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  middlemamma on 6/10/2011, 3:05 am

Good question Shannon...I HAVE NO CLUE!!! And nothing I read indicated that...would you research it and let us know? That would be great info to have. I wonder if it would only effect the seeds? Maybe if you are not saving seed it wouldn't make a difference?

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  nancy on 6/10/2011, 9:29 am

It can be very invasive if you let it. A friend of mine was only too happy to let me take some of hers. I don't care for the smell, but I plant it for the swallowtails. It is in the butterfly bed. A very pretty, interesting plant!

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  NaturesApprentice on 6/10/2011, 9:39 am

@middlemamma wrote:It is said that it doesn't play nice with others so it was recommended to plant in pots and place away from the general garden area, or to pick a spot in the back of your garden area away from the general plant population.

I have heard the same thing, but both the fennel and my lettuce seem to thrive next to each other. I've also heard that fleas and other tiny bugs don't care for it...another user quoted an old wives' tale, "plant fennel by the kennel".

@middlemamma wrote:
To get the bulbous white part at the bottom you can blanch the stem by mounding dirt up at the base once the plant is 2 inches in diameter.

I did not know this part, and the information is very timely as my fennel is about that thick. First task on my weekend (if the rain stops for a bit albino )

Thanks from this rookie,
NA

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  westie42 on 6/10/2011, 10:10 am

Thanks again for an informative article. Got me hoping in the SFG was not a bad idea as everything is a close neighbor in there. In the past I recall fennel having quite a few bug visitors traveling around the plant, something else to watch out for this year in my fennel squares. In my experience it gets top heavy and tippy from the wind if I don't mound the bulb at least some.

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  FarmerValerie on 6/10/2011, 12:41 pm

@middlemamma wrote:The Greeks name for Fennel is "marathon" meaning "to grow thin". The plant had a reputation for slimming the middle.

I learned a new word today, while listening to the raido, so I'm going to try to use it with this quote from MM2's Rookie Topic.

BOOTIE-DO
Fennel is a good plant to help with Bootie-do, which is a condition that means your stomach looks bigger than your "Bootie-Do". Teeheehee, just kidding around, GREAT topic and GREAT write up!!!!

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  middlemamma on 6/10/2011, 7:39 pm

I dunno Farmer Val, my Bootie has it's own hemisphere. LMAO!

Jennie-wishing I really could LMAO....

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Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  sherryeo on 6/11/2011, 12:18 pm

Thanks, middlemamma, for postponing bedtime long enough to write this great post! I've always been intrigued by the looks of fennel, but have never tried growing it. I wasn't sure whether we could grow it here in Mississippi, but did a little research online and found it is listed as being easy to grow in Mississippi.

I will have to give it a try! My goodness, if you guys keep writing these great Friday Rookie Topics, I'm not going to have enough sfgs to try them all, even if I get to add more boxes for my fall garden! I always want to try them all! I guess I'll have to take turns trying the new veggies and herbs! At least I'll never get bored! much for your willingness to share knowledge with others!

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  retired member 2 on 6/11/2011, 9:54 pm

I love my Fennel! I have Bronze Fennel and Florence Fennel. It does spread, but I haven't notiiced it "not playing nice" with other plants. My Glads and Coneflowers are thriving right beside it.

It does attract Swallowtails. Last year, I caught a beautiful Swallowtail caterpillar on my Fennel and put it with a branch of the Fennel in a jar with a lid poked with holes. It was for my grankids. They got to watch it pupate, then open up into a beautiful Swallowtail butterfly. It was a great nature lesson.

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  Goosegirl on 6/12/2011, 2:13 pm

I am not surprised that your glads are doing well next to it. Glads are another plant that generally does not play nice with beans and others. Maybe they are rebel buddies!
GG

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  nancy on 6/15/2011, 9:09 am

Here is a picture of my fennel. It has a bunch of new growth and is doing great! I haven't seen any caterpillars on it yet, but the baby grasshoppers are abundant here. It's shading one of the dahlias, so it need to be pruned.



It's really a lovely plant. Very Happy

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  FarmerValerie on 6/15/2011, 9:22 am

Great looking fennel, I love it when we can get real live updates on the rookie topics!!!

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  nancy on 7/12/2011, 7:40 pm

My fennel is now enormous and is hosting 7-8 swallowtail cats!!



woo hoo!

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

Post  newstart on 1/3/2012, 2:49 pm

have fennel in out in our butterfly garden love it

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Re: Friday Rookie Topic IX: Fennel

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