Growing Fennel Seeds in Garden
Fennel can be a great addition to a home’s garden. The seeds are easy to grow with no problems once they are sown properly. The seeds can be sown directly into garden soil about the time of the last frost. Sometimes the seeds will sprout and grow well without any covering of soil. It is preferable that the sowings be made a month earlier in containers. The seeds should be covered with a thin layer of potting soil and placed in a cool greenhouse or cold frame. One must pay extra care wary of when sowing the seeds because it crosses easily with dill, and the results may come out poor. It is best to keep them far apart or to prevent them from showing flowers at the same time. Herb fennel seedlings can be transplanted without problems until their tops are about 6 inches high. Larger plants have long taproots, and although they can be transplanted in late winter or early spring, they take longer to reestablish themselves.
Plants that have been growing for several years and have developed woody stems can be divided when top growth starts in late winter. The deep roots must be dug unless the fennel is preferred to grow back in the same place. Make separate individual growth shoots. The shoots with many root hairs can be immediately replanted. If more root hair development is needed, the shoots can be potted up and kept in the shade for two weeks until they develop further. Relocated plants must be watered frequently until they are established.
Cultivation is partly determined by the needs of the chef. If seeds are required, then plants should be left uncut until the seeds are ripe. When the seed heads are brown and dry, they should be harvested by cutting them into a paper bag and stored in a dry place. The seeds are easily separated from the heads by rubbing them lightly between the thumb and fingers.
If shoots are what best wanted, it is better to have three or four plants and to cut one down every three weeks for new shoots to develop. When a plant is cut down it should be watered deeply while enriching the soil with a fish fertilizer.
Using herb fennel for garden design
The cycle of growth starts in late winter with the first young shoots rising beside the previous year’s dead or cut-back stems. For the kitchen gardener, the fennel shoots match snowdrops as a harbinger of spring.
In early spring, the shoots turn into a feathery mound of green or bronze foliage. They stand in sharp contrast to the defined edges of larger-leafed plants and the darkness of wet soil. Within the feathery mound, the stems are strengthening and preparing for the upward thrust that comes with increased heat and light.
As the fennel grows, the plant’s profile changes to a vertical and dominating accent in the landscape. It is tall enough in May to act as a backdrop to the emergence of companionable flowers like Shasta and painted daisies. Pink painted daisies show up spectacularly well against a background of bronze fennel. Later in the summer, the purple cone flower provides a similar richness to the garden. Other plants that contrast sympathetically are the various color forms of garden sage, such as purple and golden sage.
With rich soil and adequate moisture, fennel will start to form its characteristic flower heads as it reaches 4 or 5 feet in height. When fully developed, these umbels will stand out as bronze or pale yellow-green umbrellas above the soft foliage of the plant. The umbels become yellow as the flowers open and are seen at their best against a dark background. At full size in late summer, herb fennel can reach 8 feet tall, and its value in the landscape changes to one of screening, dividing or hiding parts of the garden.
Fennel can be used in the back of the perennial or mixed border, as a high hedge, or flanking both sides of a path to form a temporary allée that draws attention to a tree or sculptural feature at the end of the path. One can could even create an edible maze. The drawback being that established plants can reach 4 or 5 feet wide after five years.
Bronze fennel can be spectacular in a large urn or half barrel. A half whiskey barrel, 24 inches across and 15 inches deep, could take five young plants and form a garden centerpiece or mark a change in direction of a path, or it could even make part of your patio more private. Fennel can also be used in the garden to attract beautiful and beneficial insects. Concerning pests concerns, fennel is not particularly at risk from many insect pests or diseases. You might sometimes find aphids or small whiteflies on the leaves, but they are seldom a serious problem. A spray or two of pyrethrin-based insecticidal soap will usually keep them under control