Bulb Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a small perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe and Asia. It grows up to 2 feet tall with slender stems and dark green leaves. Its flowers are white or pinkish purple, depending on the variety. They have 6 petals each and bloom from late summer through early fall. Bulb fennel is used mainly in cooking, but it can also be eaten raw. It is often used in soups and stews. There are many different varieties of bulb fennel including English bulb, French bulb, Italian bulb, Spanish bulb and others.
The name “bulb” comes from the fact that the flower buds contain tiny bulbs inside them which look like little bulbs. The leaves are edible too; they taste similar to parsley and have a mild flavor.
How To Harvest Bulb Fennel Leaves?
You can easily harvest bulb fennel leaves when they are young. You can even cut them before they turn yellow! If you want to keep your bulb fennel plants longer, then you need to wait until their leaves become mature. That means cutting off the top leaf first and waiting for the bottom one to grow back. Then just follow the same procedure again.
When you want to harvest bulb fennel leaves, the easiest way is to cut them off with scissors. If you are growing your fennel in a pot or a garden bed, then you can easily pull up the entire plant and cut of the leaves as high up as you can reach. Then, simply replant the root back into the ground. After some time, it will grow back.
You can also keep the roots in a pot and move them from place to place.
When And How To Harvest Fennel Bulbs?
This is a very important question that you need to ask yourself when growing fennel. Let us first explain the difference between bulbs and root vegetables. Root vegetables grow underground, are elongated and have a tendency to be thicker than other vegetables. Carrots, turnips, potatoes and beets are all root vegetables. On the other hand, bulb vegetables grow above ground and form rounded shapes. Onion, leeks and garlic are all bulb vegetables. In some cases it is really easy to decide when and how to harvest bulb vegetables. For example, with onions you harvest when they are big and you don’t have to do anything else.
The story is a little different with bulb fennel. You see, it grows underground bulbs, but unlike with onions, these bulbs are small. Plus, bulb fennel forms several smaller bulbs as opposed to just one big one. This makes it easier for you to replant your bulb fennel after harvesting.
There are two ways to go about when and how to harvest these bulbs.
One option is to leave the bulbs in the ground until you need them, then you can just start digging out a few of them. Obviously, you can dig out as many of them as you want. The second option is to start digging them up as soon as the plant starts to flower. If you leave them in the ground, they will turn into smaller bulbs called “corms”.
Corms are smaller than bulbs and don’t have a high nutritional value, so you shouldn’t eat them.
How To Grow Fennel?
Whether you are growing fennel for its leaves, its seeds or its bulbs, you will need to start the same way. First, you need to acquire some fennel plants or seeds. If you want to grow fennel for its leaves or seeds, then get a few fennel plants or seeds. If you want to grow fennel for its bulbs, then get some fennel bulbs. Plant your seeds or bulbs about a foot away from each other, or space out your plants if you bought them already.
When growing fennel, it’s important that the soil you are going to plant it in does not have an excessive amount of water in it. If it does, then the fennel will not grow properly. When you are planting your seeds or bulbs, dig a hole and place some sand or gravel at the bottom. This will ensure that the water drains and the soil isn’t soggy.
Otherwise, your fennel will turn out to be small and bitter!
When growing fennel, it’s important that you protect its roots from getting frozen. You can do this by putting some mulch on top of the soil in the early fall. Or, you can just move your fennel indoors. If you are going to do this, then start doing it when the temperature starts to drop at night.
Make sure you keep the room warm.
Finally, we get to the actual care and feeding of your fennel plants or bulbs. Your goal is to make sure that your plants or bulbs have enough water, but not too much. Too much water and they get soggy and rot. Too little water and they wilt, which affects the taste.
You’ll probably have to water your plants every day or maybe even twice a day. Fennel needs a lot of moisture.
In addition to watering your plants, you will also have to fertilize them every once in awhile. Any basic fertilizer will do when growing fennel. Follow the instructions on the package for how much to use and when to use it.
Now, if you are growing fennel for its bulbs, then its important that you allow your plants to flower. When the flowers fall off, the plant will start growing smaller bulbs called “corms”. Corms aren’t very big and don’t have a lot of nutrients in them. You don’t want to eat these.
Wait until the corms start turning hard in about a month. At this point, harvest your corms and then allow the main bulb to keep growing. It will develop yet a larger bulb. You can eat these main bulbs.
Finally, you can start harvesting your fennel whenever you want to. Cut off as much as you need for use in cooking. The leaves can be chopped up and added to soups or eaten raw in salads. The flowers can be stuffed or used as a garnish.
The seeds can be toasted or ground and used as a spice. And the bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked in any number of dishes.
When you are done with your fennel plants, just throw them on the compost pile!
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Sources & references used in this article:
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Quality and physiological changes of fennel under controlled atmosphere storage by F Artés, V Escalona, F Artés-Hdez – European Food Research and …, 2002 – Springer
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Effect of nitrogen and potassium fertilizer on growth, yield and chemical composition of sweet fennel by T Barzegar, S Mohammadi… – Journal of Plant …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis
Foeniculum vulgare Miller: Cell Culture, Regeneration, and the Production of Anethole by G Hunault, P Desmarest, J Du Manoir – Medicinal and Aromatic Plants II, 1989 – Springer