I have only relatively recently come to love fennel. I guess as a kid it was never part of my diet, indeed, it was never seen in the green grocers. But gradually over time and I guess because of welcome Italian influence to Australia, fennel has come into my life and into my vegetable garden. It is now a regular plant in the patch.
I've been harvesting a few lately, mostly as quite young bulbs - welcome additions to winter meals.
I find them very easy to grow. I grow them from seed planted directly into the patch and find that they come out of the ground pretty easily.
Early on in their growth, I do find that they need a little support by gently mounding a little soil up so that the thicker bit if the stem - the bit that will eventually be your bulb - sits just on top of the soil with any lower stalk covered up.
I find them very hardy too tolerating both hot and dry summers and cold winters but if you can spare water in summer, the more water, the thicker and juicier the bulbs.
I harvest bulbs both at a slim 'baby' stage and at a fat 'mature' stage.When I harvest them, I cut them off their root at soil level.
After a little while, new baby fennel plants start developing on the outer edge of the cut root.
Here is one I cut a few weeks ago now - 5 new little fennel are sprouting - I will remove some so there is room for the others to grow.
I love fennel with fish and pork, bacon and potato, with fennel seeds and tomatoes and in salads with lemon juice and olive oil.
I am contributing this to Liz's Saturday Spotlight. Take a look at her blog to see what produce others are spotlighting.