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.