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Early Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Fall, Early Winter
Ideal Soil Temperature
Days to Maturity
90 - 120 Days
Useful Plant Part
Flower, Leaves, Seed, Stems
5.6 - 7.0
Planting & Care
Planting: In early spring when danger of hard frost is over, sow seeds in well-worked, fertile soil in full sun. Space seeds 4" apart in rows 1' apart and cover seed 1/2" deep. Carefully thin when seedlings are large enough to handle to stand 10 - 12" apart so bulbs have room to grow and mature. Or start seeds indoors in a container of seed starting mix. Keep moist and provide a strong light source until seedlings are 3 - 4" tall and ready to transplant as above.
Growing: For tender, best quality bulbs, fennel needs rich soil and cool growing weather, so sow seeds as early as the ground can be worked and again in midsummer for fall harvesting. Be sure seedlings are thinned or transplanted 10 - 12" apart. Keep plants evenly moist throughout the growing season - mulching is a good strategy. Fennel is a heavy feeder, so feed every 3 weeks with a good all-purpose fertilizer or every 2 weeks with fish emulsion solution.
Harvest & Use: When bulbs are full and plump, cut them off at soil level. Trim the feathery leaves down to the solid base. Slice the crispy bulbs and add to salads, or eat with dips, or grill or sauté. The leafy tops are a great seasoning for seafood, especially salmon. Fennel's flavor is like sweet anise/celery that becomes deeper and richer with cooking.
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