Fennel thriving in an herb garden
image by missyredboots/morguefile.com
Fennel is a perennial herb when it grows in the warmest regions and is an annual herb in the colder regions. Gardeners harvest leaves and seeds for flavoring savory dishes, and the fennel bulb is prepared as a vegetable side dish. Many compare fennel to black licorice and enjoy the exotic flavor it adds to cuisine. Find a planting location in full sun or grow fennel in a garden container.
Prepare a planting area in the early spring. Work the soil with the spade down to a depth of between 3 and 4 inches. Break up any large dirt clumps and aerate the soil well. Add 1 inch of compost to the top of the soil and work the compost into the soil completely. Rake the soil surface smooth.
Plant the seeds 1 foot apart and cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil. Space fennel rows 2 feet apart. Water the newly planted fennel seeds carefully.
Fertilize fennel plants once after the seeds have germinated and again near the end of the growing season. Mix the fertilizer according to package recommendations and pour over the roots.
Water the fennel if weather conditions are dry; otherwise, fennel is not a thirsty plant.
Harvest fennel leaves whenever you need them by trimming them from the plant. Remove the blossoms after the seeds form and the blossom is spent. Remove the seeds from the blossoms and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry. Store the seeds in a sealed container.
Harvest fennel bulbs when they are approximately 3 inches in diameter. Remove the entire plant from the ground to harvest a bulb.
Leave the fennel plants in the ground as long as possible in the autumn. They will continue to grow well even after hard autumn frosts.