Fennel is a wonderfully aromatic herb that is valued for both its seeds and leaves. Fennel have feathery leaves and dainty yellow flowers on umbrella-type flower heads. It can grow up to 2.5m tall and is best known for its aniseed-like flavour.
Fennel seeds have been used as a natural digestive aid since the 8th century and are still often served to diners at restaurants in Greece, Turkey and Italy.
Planting tips :
- Choose a sunny area of your garden and plan to sow your fennel seeds at the back of a garden bed, as it can grow very tall.
- Soak fennel seeds in water for a day or two before sowing. This will help them to germinate more quickly.
- Sow the seeds directly into the soil and keep the soil moist at all times until the plants sprout.
- When you seedlings reach a height of about 15cm tall, thin them out to a distance of about 30cm apart.
- Fennel will begin to flower about 90 days after sowing. Wait until the flower heads start to fade before harvesting the seeds.
- Make sure you don’t plant fennel close to dill as the two plants will cross-pollinate each other.
- Fennel seeds are used in a variety of dishes, from sausages to fish and egg dishes, and even desserts.
- Fresh fennel leaves are delicious and refreshing in salads and dips. Florence fennel (which has a large bulb-like base) is a popular vegetable in Italy, where it is eaten raw or cooked.
- Fennel is used in many natural tooth pastes due to its sweet-smelling, fresh aroma.
- Fennel is believed to drive away fleas due to its potent smell. For this reason, powdered fennel is used in many kennels and stables to keep fleas at bay.
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