How To Grow Fennel

If you want to make your meals stand out more to impress your loved ones with your cooking skills, fennel is the way to go. Not only does it boast of an inviting aroma, it also adds flavours to your favourite dishes, making them delicious. It also has vitamin C and comes in handy in treating digestive problems. What’s more, its delicate leaves are a sure way to make your garden aesthetically pleasing. If you want to know more about growing fennel, here are the stages that you should follow. The great thing about it is that you can plant it in your wooden shed if you want to regulate the conditions or if you lack adequate space in your outdoors.

Variety Selection

The best place to start when it comes to planting fennel is deciding which variety is best for you. People do this in three ways as it all depends on the part of the plant that you would like to use, i.e., the bulb, the seeds or the fronds. Suppose you want to eat the bulb, you should thus choose a fennel type that offers a tasty bulb. Here are the common varieties:

The Florence fennel boasts of a bulbous stem and is therefore excellent if you wish to enjoy this part. You can consume it straight from the garden, or you could grill or bake it. Where the stalks from the bulb are quite large such as those of celery, you can opt to consume them as well.

Supposing you prefer a leafy plant to that with a big bulb, the herb fennel would suit you. It produces delicate leaves which you can use as a herb. Additionally, you can benefit from the production of flavoured seeds, which you can use as a seasoning in many a dish.

Planting

You can choose to plant the fennel in two ways. The first option is to have the plants outdoors where they have access to adequate sunlight, air and other components necessary for their growth. While doing so, you need to choose a site with well-drained and fertile soils to ensure that they mature at a fast rate. The other option is to have them indoors in your wooden shed where you can adjust the conditions to best suit the needs of the plant. Let’s take a look at these two options:

Outdoors

The great thing about planting fennel is that it follows the same procedure. As such, it will not matter which variety you have in mind as you can use the stated processes. If you plan on having the plants outdoors, you should schedule the planting to a time around the last spring frost. You can check with the local weather forecast to get an idea of when this will be to ensure that you get the timing right.

Check the various locations on your compound to figure out which site has the most fertile and well-drained soils. Once you have decided on a spot, work to loosen the soil to incorporate air as you add some compost into the mix. Where you feel that the soil lacks adequate drainage, you can alter the composition of the soil to make it well-drained.

Note that you will plant the seeds directly into the soil, at least three millimetres deep. You can have more than one seed in a hole. If they all come out, you can work on thinning them out as you get rid of the weaker seedlings at a later stage. Ensure that they are at least ten inches apart before covering them with adequate soil.

If you have any dill or coriander in the vicinity, think of having the fennel in a different location. These plants tend to cross-pollinate, and this not only affects seed production negatively but also the flavour.

Indoors

The advantage of having fennel indoors is that you don’t have to worry much about the existing weather conditions as you can alter them in the wooden shed. For this, you will need large containers in which you can sow the seeds. Ideally, the planting should take place at least a month before the last spring frost. An almanac can come in handy in helping you determine the best time to get started on the planting.

When it comes to planting fennel seeds in your wooden shed, you can go about it in two ways. You can choose to start the seeds under controlled conditions before transplanting them to the outdoors. In this case, you need to wait for them to be at least three inches tall. At this point, you could then harden them off in a cold frame before moving them to a suitable location in your garden.

The other option would be to plant the seeds in containers in the wooden shed and to allow the seedlings to reach maturity when indoors. If you choose this option, you should get containers that are at least twelve inches deep. Fill them with light soil incorporated with gravel to ensure that the soil is well-drained, aired and fertile. At the beginning of the process, you can have more than one seed per container to increase the chances of survival.

Once the seedlings sprout, you should thin them out to ensure that there is no competition over nutrients as this will result in a small bulb. If you wish to enjoy the leaves and seeds, you can have more than one fennel per container as their taste will not suffer adverse effects.

Aftercare

One thing you should note about fennel is that it requires exposure to a lot of sunlight. Thus, if you can have them in an open area outdoors, they will do well. Alternatively, you can plant them towards the southern or western side of your wooden shed where they can get the afternoon rays. The same goes for fennel indoors as you should have them near a southern facing window.

Before the fennel establishes itself, ensure that you water them regularly to keep the soil moist but not wet. You will not need to fertilize the soil as the fennel grows. However, you can use some light compost if you wish to incorporate more nutrients into the mix. Once the bulb forms, you can cover it with soil to keep it from turning green. Where you intend only to consume the leaves and the seeds, this step is not necessary.

Harvesting

If you want to enjoy the leaves, you can do so once the plant establishes itself. As you do so, ensure that you do not cut off too many as this can harm the plant. Once the bulb is the size of a tennis ball, you can eat it. Allowing it to become too big reduces its flavour. Seeds are best when ripe, and the best way to collect them is by shaking the seed head.

All the best!

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