Take every other one out of the ground gently so you keep the root intact. Cut down fennel in June if you don't want it to go to seed and it will grow again giving good tasting foliage for longer. Florence fennel is grown for its swollen bulb and eaten as a vegetable, whereas common (or sweet) fennel is a tall (up to 180cm) perennial herb grown for its seeds and feathery foliage and is often used as a substitute for dill. But if you grow fennel right you can have three crops for the price of one – a beautiful herb (the green fernlike fronds), a crunchy bulb and a root that tastes similar to a sweet parsnip. The Cornish chef turned veg grower explains how he produces menu-fit baby fennel, Rick loves to use fresh fennel in the kitchen, The best gardening books to buy for Christmas 2020, picked by our experts, How do plants recover from accidental damage? It readily re-seeds and while not considered invasive, it has certainly earned its reputation for aggressive growing. And if you do dig up a huge bulb that has gone to seed you can always try chopping it up and using it in a fish stock. Cut just above soil level and underneath the base with a sharp knife. If you let the flowers produce seeds you can dry them and use them for cooking. This is a simple dish, bursting with flavour; it uses the whole vegetable, including the much underused root of the fennel bulb. Common fennel does not produce a bulb. Let them grow, but if they start growing taller rather than rounder, harvest before they go to seed and leave a horrible core through the centre of the bulb. Please check back later. The biggest source of disappointment when growing Florence fennel comes from its tendency to bolt (run to seed) before it has produced its bulb. The fine textured foliage can grow up to 6 feet (2 m.) tall and makes an excellent backdrop for other flower planting. It’s really important to keep the fennel well watered; if conditions are too dry they will bolt. In a separate bowl mix white crabmeat with the remaining lemon juice, finely chop a tablespoon of fennel tops, 1 finely chopped spring onion and season to taste. Best to direct sow in spring, where they are to grow by placing 2 or 3 seeds in a shallow hole, thinning out after suitable conditions allows for successful germination around 7-10 days time. Fennel is a short lived perennial that blooms best in the second year. A three-week gap between sowings should give you good continuity from June until November. There are three main types of this aromatic plant. But if you grow fennel right you can have three crops for the price of one – a beautiful herb (the green fernlike fronds), a crunchy bulb and a root that tastes similar to a sweet parsnip. Dried dill leaves are called dill weed and are very subtle in flavor. Use a hoe or the edge of a rake to make a drill roughly 1in (2cm) deep, sprinkle the seeds into it roughly 1in (3cm) apart and lightly cover. He introduced me to Ross and his produce. Both types of fennel have an aniseed or liquorice taste. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Florence fennel is grown for its swollen bulb and eaten as a vegetable, whereas common (or sweet) fennel is a tall (up to 180cm) perennial herb grown for its seeds and feathery foliage and is often used as a substitute for dill. Thin out to one per planting area. Personal Planting Updates & Tips You can make an early April sowing of fennel in modules but I don’t recommend this. Place the baby fennel in the middle of a large piece of tin foil, add the bay leaf, half of the red chilli (finely sliced) and season with salt and pepper. Varieties that have won the RHS Award of Garden Merit will generally give consistent good results, Our bestselling books for growing success! More Information For this reason the seeds are best started off in situ from the beginning of June to July. FREE SEEDS SPECIAL OFFER, Free Trial - Allotment Planner Both qualities make some people wary of it. I prefer to make my first sowing in early May and my final sowing in late July. Cut the tops off the baby fennel around the bulb, ensuring you leave the root attached. Although fennel prefers poor dry growing conditions; in its early days, it requires moist fertile drained soil. While fennel is steaming in the oven, mix the crème fraîche with half of the lemon juice, salt and pepper, 1 finely sliced spring onion, and a finely chopped garlic clove. Lift up the four corners of the foil, pour in white wine and seal up the foil into a bag, allowing space around the fennel. Keep the tops to one side. If your fennel bulb does go to seed (which unless you’re the luckiest gardener in Britain, a few will) don’t give up, they produce lovely yellow flowers which have lots of culinary uses. Thin out to one per planting area. Herb fennel is an ancient plant, grown by the Greeks and Romans and mentioned widely in the literature of the time. Although fennel prefers poor dry growing conditions; in its early days, it requires moist fertile drained soil. Fennel is just as easy to grow now as it was way back when it was used to ward off witchcraft Phil Daoust Sat 28 Jun 2014 02.00 EDT First published on Sat 28 Jun 2014 02.00 EDT It is a good source of folic acid, potassium and vitamin C. Do not grow fennel and dill close together as they may cross-fertilise and thus affect their taste, Grow fennel away from other plants as it is known to inhibit some plants’ growth. Each time I’ve tried it the majority of the bulbs have run to seed and you don’t get that beautiful edible root below the bulb because it has spiralled around in the module. These beautiful little thinnings are delicious and can be eaten raw or cooked. Two things cause this premature seeding: sowing too early on in spring or disturbing the young plant’s roots. Harvest fresh leaves during the growing season or gather seeds late summer for pickling or infusing. If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides. Although large fennel bulbs do have a place in the culinary world the baby fennels that I grow at Padstow Kitchen Garden not only have a slightly sweeter flavour but they shouldn’t run to seed either. Weeds must be kept away as they can cause competition for water and nutrients too. Remove the larger leaves from the bulb. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. Distance between 2 or more plants must be kept at 50cm to avoid competition for root growth and water uptake. Both fennel and dill are perennial plants, but care must be taken to overwinter them in the UK; Dill will grow to around 2 to 4 feet when it reaches maturity, fennel will grow to 3 to 5 feet in height and will require some form of support. It appears that your basket is currently empty! Fennel self sows very easily so if you don't want lots of little seedlings make sure all the flowers are removed before going to seed. Fennel has two main types – common fennel, and florence fennel – which are not to be confused. Once the baby fennel is cooked (to add extra flavour to the fennel bulb you could barbecue or char on a griddle after steaming), spread the crème fraîche mixture over the centre of a plate, remove fennel from foil bag and place on top of crème fraîche.