Florence Fennel

Several weeks ago, we began harvesting the first beautiful bulbs of Florence fennel: a new crop for us this year.

Despite no particular attention, these have flourished to give us fresh-tasting, crunchy bulbs for the kitchen.

I love their architecture, from spiralling white roots, to the smooth bulb and stems, up to the wonderful ferny foliage.

Too big even for the trug to hold!

One or two of the plants are beginning to bolt, showing the first signs of flowers. I love the vibrant colour of these, but snap them off quickly and mentally list another bulb to be harvested soon.

The plants we have harvested so far have all had rather flatter bulbs than those in the supermarket. Opinion seems to indicate that fennel can produce male and female bulbs, and the rounder male bulbs tend to be favoured commercially for improved flavour and less likelihood of bolting.

Whatever the truth of that, this is a crop that we are enjoying enormously, and will certainly be growing again next year.


13 thoughts on “Florence Fennel

  1. Success with fennel depends a lot on your soil, I think. I have tried growing it, but in my dry soil it just bolted without making any significant bulb. I think I’d have to treat it like my Celeriac – on an intensive water-consumption regime.
    Yours look pretty good though.Don’t the flowers make fascinating subjects for photos?

    • We must be lucky with our heavy clay soil, as we haven’t even watered these more than a couple of times early on! Same lack of water for our celeriac though, suspect it has suffered more and is much smaller, we shall see! The foliage and flowers are both beautiful.

    • Indeed, they have a distinct flavour that would be hard to live on non-stop! Not sure about storing them, will have to read up on it and try then let you know if it’s successful.

      • Hi Catharine,
        It looks as though you can either pickle fennel to preserve it (I have found a few recipes online), or blanch it for three minutes, chopped, before freezing it. I think I will try pickling some to have as an antipasto, and freezing the rest to throw into risottos and other dishes over the winter…

  2. Beautifully crisp and clean looking. Tend to treat my few as architectural plants and let them flower but yet I love fennel with creamy blue cheese.
    p.s. gorgeous view in the new header – tell me more

    • They are magnificently handsome plants growing, I suspect we may leave one or two to flower, since there may well be more than we can eat… I like the idea of fennel with blue cheese.
      My header is the view from the bottom of our garden, at the beginning of March, I haven’t changed it since then, though I do have a summer version that I keep meaning to crop to the right size and upload – a little late now, I’ll need to take an autumn one instead!

  3. I’ve never grown fennel but was thinking about adding it to next years list and after seeing your post, most definitely will! I love architectural plants. Bethx

    • I grew them this year because they looked so beautiful at RHS Wisley last autumn. 🙂 We sometimes make a chicken and fennel risotto which is rather good.

    • The flavour isn’t for everyone, though it’s usually quite mild once cooked, sometimes more so than the seeds or herb… And they are very beautiful.

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