Fabulous Florence Fennel!

What a joyful month June is!  June’s warm sunshine seems to infuse every fibre of our beings, imbuing our souls with a feeling of uplifting bliss that can only be found outdoors.  June also brings us the gift of sweet summer rain to refresh our plants, and with it the excitement of a great many wonderful growing opportunities in the garden; it’s hard to beat this time of year!

Florence fennel is a marvellous vegetable to grow!  The entire plant is edible, so there’s no waste.  There’s also very little time-consuming washing or preparation required, which is a real boon when you’ve been working hard in the garden, or at your allotment all day, and want to eat some of your freshly harvested, home-grown, delicious produce for supper, but have exhausted yourself gardening and so need to prepare a delightful, but simple meal!  If you’re really tired, you’ll be glad to know that Florence fennel tastes great raw too!

Fennel ‘Rondo’.

There are a number of fantastic Florence fennel cultivars, which can be sown now, including ‘Romanesco’, ‘Zefa Fino’, and ‘Rondo’: three of my top performing Florence fennel cultivars.  In previous years, ‘Rondo’ has produced the largest bulbs for me out of these three when sown this month, but all three cultivars flourished, producing delectable tasting bulbs and foliage.

Florence fennel ‘Zefa Fino’.

I have found that Florence fennel thrives on our sandy soils, for best results add a mulch of home-made garden compost, or peat free compost over the soil prior to sowing your seeds.  This mulch will help to suppress weed growth, it will also provide your plants with some extra nutrients and will help to increase the water holding capacity of the soil, all of which will benefit your plants.

Florenece fennel ‘Romanesco’.

To grow Florence fennel successfully, choose a bright and sunny or partially shaded location, as Florence fennel does not enjoy growing in too shaded a spot.  There’s no need to start your seedlings off in seed trays – Florence fennel seed is best sown directly in the soil where it is to grow.

Ensure that your plants receive regular, frequent waterings to enable your Florence fennel plants to grow and develop their sweet, slightly aniseedy swollen leaf bases.  Do make sure that you provide your plants with sufficient water – give them a good soak twice a week, if Florence fennel plants become too dry, even for a few days, they very quickly sulk, before bolting skywards, when they become tough and inedible.

Make sowings of Florence fennel seed every few weeks to provide you with a good, sustained harvest at regular intervals into late autumn or early winter, depending of course on our Great British weather!  Happy growing!

This article was first published in the June 2018 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Other articles that may interest you……………

To see photographs of the RHS Kitchen Garden that Juliet Sargeant designed for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, please click here.

To see my various Compost Trials, please click here.

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