Fennel is a vegetable that can be eaten both cooked and raw and a beautiful plant, with its characteristic luxuriant and bright green tuft is also suitable for garden gardens.
As a plant it fears too much heat and instead has good resistance to frost, we can choose both to grow fennel during the spring and in the autumn as a winter vegetable.
The cultivation of fennel is not one of the simplest in the garden, but with a series of tricks that we will explore together, it is not difficult to obtain good results. So let’s find out from sowing to harvesting how to manage these very interesting plants with biological techniques.
Suitable climatic conditions
The fennel plant does not like excesses of cold and is especially afraid of being too hot: temperatures below 7 degrees and those above 30 degrees are harmful. Fennel fears frost and for this reason, if we choose an autumn crop, it must be harvested before the winter frosts.
This umbrella species is particularly sensitive to daylight hours: it needs 12 hours of light.
When the weather is adverse or the hours of daylight are too many, the fennel reacts by mounting the seed in advance. This is because the plant feels threatened and to ensure the continuation of the species it reproduces ahead of time, completely ruining the crop.
For this reason, it is important to choose the right cultivation period: fennel should be sown in March or between June and July and can also be counted among the winter vegetables.
Soil suitable for fennel
To obtain a fennel of a good size, the soil factor is very important, since the heart of the fennel develops at ground level. For this reason, due attention must be paid to processing and fertilization if we want success in terms of harvesting.
First of all, it is necessary that the soil does not compact too much so that it does not offer resistance to the swelling of the heart, furthermore, we always keep in mind that this horticultural plant does not tolerate stagnation: it is necessary to have a draining soil, which allows good prevention of cryptogamic diseases.
The processing is generally carried out in 4 steps:
Soil cleaning: removal of previous crops or turf.
Digging: possibly deep, removing any large stones.
Hoeing: to break the clods left by the spade and have a fine-grained surface.
Leveling: a passage finally with an iron rake serves to level the ground.
Fertilization of fennel
As far as fertilization is concerned, the fennel plant, although not among the most voracious vegetables in terms of nutritional elements, prefers fertile soil, better if fertilized sometime before (manure or compost are fine), without excesses.
The organic substance is useful to keep the soil soft and moist, therefore it is better to use soil improvers (manure or compost are fine). During cultivation, a little nitrogen can then be added to favor the growth of the heart (for example with pelleted manure).
The sowing of fennel
Sowing fennel is not difficult, it can be done both directly in the field and in the seedbed, the work can be deepened by reading the article on how fennel is sown.
Sowing period :
Spring cultivation. Fennel can be sown in March, to harvest in June, with a seedbed even in February.
Autumn cultivation: sowing between June and July, for harvesting in the autumn garden.
Those who want to follow the moon phase to sow fennel will have to do it on a waning moon, the peasant tradition says that this makes it less likely to be whipped.
How to grow fennel in the vegetable garden
The cultivation of fennel is not difficult, but obtaining vegetables of a good size requires various precautions, especially if the soil is not more than favorable. We, therefore, remember that it is a species that requires constant attention.
This horticultural plant fears the competition of weeds, for this reason, it is often referred to sow fennel in seedbeds and transplant them, in this way the already formed seedling is planted in the garden, able to better compete with the weeds. In any case, the fennel needs frequent weeding both to keep soft earth and to avoid weeds.
Fennels need soil that is always humid, even without stagnation. For this reason, it is necessary to bathe often, especially in gardens located in very hot areas. A lack of water stresses the plant which can go into pre-flowering, ruining the harvest.
Trim the fennel
There are those who recommend topping the tuft of fennel, personally, I am skeptical about the real usefulness of this work which seems to be indicated by different peasant traditions. You decide whether to trim or not, but only slightly sprouting the leaves at the top of the tuft, certainly, you should not carry out a drastic topping that takes away photosynthesis from the plant.
Since fennel cannot stand the frost it must be harvested before the temperatures drop below zero, or to have this vegetable in winter by extending the harvesting period, it can be protected by using tunnels or a non-woven fabric sheet.
If the temperature drops gradually, the fennel adapts a little by losing water, while a change in climate quickly ruins it.
Bleaching and reinforcement
The bleaching or blanching of fennel is an important part of cultivation since if done well it improves both the quality and the size of the vegetable. A very common mistake among fennel growers is to tuck up the heart already formed and close to harvest. The fennel heart, which is the vegetable, should not be tucked up: it is made up of leaves and a heap would only facilitate attacks by insects and parasites.
The tamping operations are very useful for bleaching, but they must be done first: you can proceed with a single tamping 15 days before harvesting or with three or four tamping operations to be carried out while the buds are getting bigger.