How to Grow and Harvest Fennel
Growing fennel is a treat if you like licorice but this herb is
sometimes called celery herb because it resembles bulb celery or
If you grow it at the wrong time (stress it) it will develop seed
stalks instead of nice foliage and bulbs.
Fennel illustration showing parts of plant
The wrong time is sowing it so that it matures during hot weather.
Either sow a little early (April 15 to May 15 in zone 4) or a little
Note that all cultivated varieties of Florence Fennel (F. vulgare v. azoricum) do grow bulbs if grown properly. Plain old Foeniculum vulgare does not form a bulb.
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Sow the seed directly into peat pots and only slightly cover this seed
(no more than 1/4 inch deep. Germinate it at a 65-70F soil temperature
and thin the seedlings to the single strongest plant in each pot. Grow
the seedlings on at 60F (any warmer and the plants will start to
In early June, transplant outside and if you have to grow more than a
few plants, put them in rows approximately 8 inches apart in the row
and 18 inches between rows.
Hill up the base of the bulb if you want to blanch the root; do this
two to three weeks before harvest.
You can grow a late crop by sowing directly into the warm soil in the
first week of July. Sow seeds one to the inch and then thin to 8 inches
apart. Depth etc of the fennel seeds as above.
Fennel bulb after harvest
Harvesting is as simple as walking down the row and pulling (or
digging) up any growing fennel bulb that is larger than two inches in
I note the stems can be eaten and used as celery. Use the leaves in
fish dishes and the seed in making bread.
Traditional Uses Include
Digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants.
Medicinally used for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs, bronchitis, cholera, backache, snakebites, and bedwetting.
Women use to increase breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive.
Fennel oil is used as a flavoring agent in food, laxatives, and fragrance for soaps and cosmetics
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