For the past fourteen years, I’ve grown a delicious harvest of Florence Fennel bulbs by going against traditional gardening advice; instead of ending my sowings of Florence Fennel seeds by June or July, I’ve continued sowing seed throughout August and September. Gardeners in Northern regions of the UK would be unlikely to succeed following my advice, but in my Surrey garden’s sandy soil these later sown seeds have produced a wonderful last hurrah of medium-sized sweet tasting Florence Fennel bulbs.
I am not suggesting for a moment that Surrey gardeners should give up their earlier sowings of Florence Fennel seeds (far from it – I encourage early sowings), but rather I want to help you extend your seed sowing timings to grow a larger harvest and a greater number of bulbs, over a longer season.
Some Florence Fennel cultivars perform better with an earlier sowing and others later. In my Trials, I’ve found that ‘Zefa Fino’, ‘Perfection’, ‘Romanesco’, and ‘Colossal’ are superb varieties to sow this late in the season.
Florence Fennel simply flourishes in sandy or silty soils. However, this vegetable doesn’t do well in containers, in gloomy, shady conditions or water-logged soils. Choose a bright and sunny area of your garden or allotment and sow Florence Fennel seeds directly in the soil. Sow your seeds fairly thinly; imagine each seed as a small plant. There’s no need to cover your plants but do make sure you water your seedlings twice or three times a week, when the weather’s dry.
A word of warning: Florence Fennel won’t wait to be eaten. If you delay harvesting Florence Fennel and leave this vegetable to attain its full size, it will bolt and become tough and woody, when it’s only good for the compost heap. Young plants have a sensational flavour.
A more recent delight I’ve discovered is Texsel Greens ‘Garlic Kale’ (from Chiltern Seeds). I’ve been growing these leafy vegetables for the past four years. I simply adore Garlic Kale’s mild garlicky flavour; the leaves make a wonderful addition to salads, they’re also great in sandwiches and soups.
Texsel Greens ‘Garlic Kale’ is super-easy to grow vegetable; seeds can be sown in containers or directly in the soil. ‘Garlic Kale’ will positively thrive in a sunny or partially shaded area, but it has even succeeded in my Vegepod, which is positioned in deep shade. This really is a reliable vegetable that everyone can grow; I encourage you to try it!
If you’re thinking of planting spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, place your orders now and plant your bulbs as soon as possible after delivery. However, it’s best to delay planting tulips until December to avoid a fungal disease called Tulip Fire.
This article was first published in the August 2021 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
For more gardening advice for August, please click here.
To see my calendar of specialist plant fairs, please click here.
To read about the best performing daffodils in my Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.
For information on growing a wide range of vegetables, please click here.
To see the different Alliums I grew this year, please click here.
To see the colourful flowering bulbs I planted last autumn, please click here.