How to plant and harvest fennel?

How to plant and harvest fennel?

Characteristics of fennel

  • Type: vegetable plant
  • Height: up to 1m
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Desired exposure: sunny
  • Type of soil: well drained
  • Interview : easy to maintain
  • Sanitizing: no
  • Diseases and pests: aphids
  • Varieties: Anethum graveolens, Seseli hippomarathrum, Meum athamanticum, Oenathe aquatica, Foeniculum vulgare

Origins and characteristics of fennel

Fennel is a plant belonging to the apiaceae family. Divided into two large varieties (wild fennel and vegetable fennel), this leafy vegetable was particularly appreciated during Antiquity as well as during the XVIIth century in France. It then fell out of favor before making a noticeable comeback during the second half of the 20th century thanks to its vaguely dill-like taste.

Originating from the Mediterranean basin, fennel can exceed a meter in height and produces in summer small yellow flowers made up of 5 petals, as well as an edible bulb, with a whitish and pale green appearance.

It is cultivated mainly in the south of France, around the Mediterranean basin. Fennel is harvested from June to October.

It should not be confused fennel with medicinal fennel. The latter is a herbaceous perennial that grows wild by the sea, generally in the Midi but also on the Atlantic coast.

Planting fennel

The ideal period for plant fennel runs from the end of February until April, and in any case before the start of the heat periods. Sow in the nursery, covering the seeds with about 1 cm of potting soil, then plant as soon as the plants reach a height of 10 cm. Fennel should have a special place in the garden, tending to pollinate with dill.

The spacing will allow it not to drain water and mineral resources drawn by other species (tomatoes, beans). Planted near lettuces, fennel - thanks to its peculiar and very present odor - will help to fight against the invasion of slugs.

Fennel cultivation should be privileged because this vegetable is an essential companion plant

Fennel care

Maintenance of fennel consists of the elimination of the flower stems, and a weekly watering in fine rain. Fennel supports very dry soils as well as repeated exposure to the sun, but requires regular watering, especially in hot weather. This prevents the seeds from rising and makes it possible to obtain a very tender fennel. Also remember to mulch the soil to keep the soil cool.

Butte regularly fennel plants to facilitate the whitening of the bulbs.

When the fennel has reached a height of fifteen centimeters, it is necessary to give it more room. More than a size of fennel, it is the elimination of the weakest plants which will allow the most vigorous feet to thrive. It is advisable to keep only one fennel plant every 25 cm.

Fennel diseases

Fennel is a vegetable plant which is not very sensitive to diseases and external aggressions. Fennel especially fears pests such as carrot fly, aphids, snails and slugs.

It can sometimes be attacked by aphids. In these cases, wait until the sun goes down to spray diluted black soap in order to eliminate them. You can also use ladybugs which are a natural predator of aphids.

Harvest fennel

Harvesting of fennel takes place between July and October. Use a spade fork to pluck the bulbs when they are about 8 to 10cm wide. The harvest is done as needed, and before the first autumn frosts.