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Hello Guest!
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Post  LaFee 11/12/2010, 3:47 am

Hi y'all - I bought a fennel bulb the other day, and darned if it isn't sending up LOTS of new stems and leaves.

Can I plant it and save it? Or is it done for once it's been cut?
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Post  ander217 11/12/2010, 11:18 am

I don't know if you can save it, but all parts of the plant are edible, so if it was me I'd probably cut the new growth and use it.

I still have a couple of bulbs in my garden that grew from spring-planted seed. The parsley worms ate them to the ground and I thought they died, but they came back and started growing in the cooler fall temps. They are now thigh-high and flowering. I read online that fennel pollen is a new culinary thing, but I doubt that I'll be outside gathering any this week. Smile

I use the leaves for garnishes or in flower arrangements, and the stems are good in cooking.

But if you want to experiment, I say go for it.
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Post  LaFee 11/12/2010, 11:42 am

I *love* fennel in salads, or just to munch raw (go figure - me, the one who breaks out in the "icky dance" if she finds a black jellybean)

I'm half thinking about just letting it root, then bloom and go to seed just and collect those.
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Post  middlemamma 11/12/2010, 1:43 pm

This is another new thing I am going to try this year.. Very Happy I know who to come to when its time to eat it to see what in the heck to do with it! LOL

I have never even eaten it before. I may try a few turnips...never had one of those either.

Embarassed
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Post  LaFee 11/12/2010, 2:53 pm

Jennie, you might want to "try before you buy" -- only because then you don't give up precious space in your boxes and then find out you don't like them!

Winter's a great time to try celeriac and turnips, as they're both cold-season crops. Fennel is more of a spring veg, so if you can find one now, great, but it might not be in your local stores.

Turnips can be cut into chunks and roasted, either alone or with other veggies -- or boiled and mashed just like mashed potatoes.

Lots of people love fennel braised with fish...but it never lasts long enough -- I absolutely love it just sliced into a salad, or eaten with a little dressing all by itself.
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Post  ander217 11/12/2010, 6:55 pm

I love fennel cooked, but I'm not as big a fan of it raw. I can't get past the licorice thing. That seems to disappear when it's cooked.
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Post  middlemamma 11/12/2010, 7:02 pm

I am the weirdo that will buy the bag of all black jelly beans... bounce
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Post  Lavender Debs 11/13/2010, 11:43 am

My guess is that if you like black jelly beans you just might like fennel. There are black jelly bean undertones to "Florence" fennel (anise or licorice)

Basil is has a short, delicate season in the PNW. I like to use coarsely chopped fennel bulb in tomato sauces after the basil becomes a memory. To my old taste buds it gives a very similar sunny flavor. I have grown the herb fennel in the past and paid crazy-high prices for bulb fennel (always called anise in local markets). Last season was the first time I ever grew the bulbs (now I understand why it is expensive!)

I love, love, love the sliced bulb in potato salad. Very nice in a cheesy omelet or stuffed into a nice, fresh salmon. If you like liver sauté it with leeks and very fresh liver (I only eat liver from farmers who have just butchered or during hunting season) Seems like I need Chicken Soup in the winter more than in the summer, fennel bulb is good in broth or in the soup.

About the original post... what you propose works with leeks, the worst that could happen is you lose a little bit of expensive veggie... then again.... you might get a lot more of the expensive veggie. I would be careful to protect any nubs that could become roots.

Did not lose any of mine to bugs but there were other issues. Fennel, like cauliflower, needs to be mulched or covered to have the nice white bulb you see in stores. I did notice that the squares that I under-planted with lettuce to “mulch the fennel” made whiter bulbs but the plant seemed unhappy. But the squares that I crowded too much fennel into were happier and a little whiter than the plant in the picture. The other thing to be aware of, if you wait too long to harvest fennel the inner core will get tough and woody. Only a few of the outer leaves will be fit to eat. The leaves are good for flavor at any stage as long as they are green.

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Post  outsideasy 11/13/2010, 8:29 pm

I didn't know that you needed to mulch fennel to make it bulb. All my fennel is wide at the base but would not bulb and now I know why. Thanks.
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Post  Lavender Debs 11/14/2010, 8:05 am

Not to make it bulb, to make the bulb a nice bright white (sorry about that.... and hi!)
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Post  outsideasy 11/14/2010, 12:03 pm

OK, is there a secret to make a fennel plant make a large bulb? All the fennel I planted last Spring (first time) just grew thin and tall then flowered and went to seed, is there a secret to make fennel grow bulbs?
Thanks
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Post  Lavender Debs 11/14/2010, 12:20 pm

It is possible that you have the herb fennel. The kind that makes a bulb is called "Florence Fennel" Otherwise, ya got me, I'm a dumb-luck gardener.
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Post  Furbalsmom 11/14/2010, 12:36 pm

To follow up on Lavender Debs comment

Florence Fennel is grown for the Bulbs.
Common Fennel is grown to be used as an herb.

Plant the fennel seeds directly into rich soil, and keep the bed moist for two weeks until the first leaves appear. At this point be careful not to over water, but treat as you would a garden vegetable. Fennel can be planted right up till August, so it's not too late to get started! The bulb does take months to grow to it's full size, but you can use it at any point. When the bulbs are about the size of an egg, pile the soil up around it so it will continue to grow away from the light. At this point the bulb should be ready to harvest in 2 to 3 weeks. You may cut off the seed heads when they form and give the bulb a few more days to grow, then harvest. In mild climates you can grow and harvest fennel all year long using this method!

FLORENCE FENNEL
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Post  LaFee 11/14/2010, 12:48 pm

Several days on, my little-fennel-that-could is apparently quite happy in its dish of water -- more feathery leaves and a few little nubs that will eventually be roots.

I figure if I let this one grow and go to seed, I can't go too wrong -- anything hardy enough to send out new shoots when it's been pitched into the produce bowl will surely produce seeds and offspring hardy enough to survive my care!
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Post  pattipan 11/14/2010, 2:21 pm

I bought fennel seed this spring but ended up not planting it. After reading up on it I discovered that is reported to be a very bad companion to most vegetables, i.e. it's allelopathic/inhibits their growth and may even kill some plants. Most sites advised planting it well away from other veggies, especially beans and tomatoes. I was going to make a special box for it, but never got around to it. Those of you that grew it, did you find it to be a problem?

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Post  outsideasy 11/14/2010, 2:59 pm

I looked at the seed package and it is Florence Fennel by Ferry Morse seed co. I have the right seed and the fennel grew tall and had big stalks growing out at the base that made it look big and wide but was narrow not round like what I see in the store. All I can do is try again and keep searching for something more to do to get that round bulb at the base. Thanks for all your help and please keep the suggestions going as there must be a solution to this.
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Post  Lavender Debs 11/14/2010, 3:07 pm

Whoo-hoo LaFee!!

PP it is as advertised. I JUST went back and reread the companion planting information. I had dill and fennel properties mixed up. I put dill into its own pot and fennel into box #2. The beans in that box just did not make it even AFTER the PNW got past the cold wet early summer. I've been wondering what I did wrong to get so few mature onions. Shallots were fine (humm)

This was the first time I have ever tried fennel and spent far more time reading about how to when now I see I should have been reading where to. In the same box, chard is doing fine, so are the calendula but all my broccoli was in that box and it did poorly (again, humm)

I loved it though and want more so maybe I'll have to build another box for broccoli.
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Post  Lavender Debs 11/14/2010, 3:08 pm

Outsie seed is the cheep part, choose a different company.
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Post  outsideasy 12/20/2010, 1:05 pm

I just had to bring this thread back up again because I was asking how to make a fennel bulb. I had planted fennel in pots and in the ground last May and it just didn't bulb out, then our SFG was ready to plant in August and I planted a few squares and now it's really looking like it should. Big bulbs at the base so I am wondering if fennel does better in the fall and winter than hot summer. Also I have a recipe that I tried off of The Food Network that I would like to share, it was fantastic and I added a little bacon
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/braised-spring-onions-fennel-and-swiss-chard-recipe/index.html
Al
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Post  LaFee 12/20/2010, 1:28 pm

Mine has given up the ghost, unfortunately...had to move it downstairs to make room for the Thanksgiving buffet, and it got chilled (and dried out Sad )

But yes, it's a cool-weather crop.
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Post  ander217 12/20/2010, 6:16 pm

Florence fennel will grow stems and fronds if spring planted, but it won't bulb properly unless it matures in cool weather. That means it should be planted in mid to late summer for most of us. It takes around 100 days or more to mature.

I planted some last spring and it grew all summer then bolted. It came back after blooming and grew more stems. Even after a hard freeze I was still able to find some protected stems which had enough green to snip for flavoring salads. I'm curious to see if it will come back in spring.

Now that I know it only bulbs in cool weather, I'll delay my planting next year and try to get some nice bulbs. I enjoyed the fronds enough that I plan to plant some herb fennel to use in salads and cooking unless this one plant of mine comes back again.
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Post  Lavender Debs 12/20/2010, 7:25 pm

Anyway....way kewl that you gave a follow up.
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Post  outsideasy 12/20/2010, 8:51 pm

OK, so I will plant fennel late summer for a good fall winter crop.
Thanks
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Post  Bec 12/21/2010, 7:44 am

I have tried Florence Fennel 2 years in a row with no success - no bulbs. I've double checked and it is the florence variety. Both times were spring plantings and in their own bed, way away from the rest of my garden. I'll try again next year, maybe with a new packet of seeds, but will also try next fall and see if I can finally get good results. I have a delicious Rachael Ray recipe (even the picky eaters and grandkids liked it), but fennel is so expensive in the stores I really want to succeed at growing my own. I grow red and yellow sweet peppers for the same reason. Thanks for all the advice on here.
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