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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.

Fennel

Fennel is an easily grown herb that has many uses for seasoning foods and medicinally. It is often used in the preparation of fish, and is thought to make fish easier to digest. Fennel tea is used in much of Europe to relieve the discomfort of colicky babies. Fennel has also been used as an insect repellant, and is thought to be particularly effective in repelling fleas.

Fennel plants are believed to release a chemical that impairs the growth of some other plants, so it should not be grown very close to beans, tomatoes or cabbage family plants.

Fennel quickly develops a large taproot. It can be started indoors if it is transplanted very carefully when quite small, but it is usually a better idea to plant the seeds directly out in the garden. Fennel can be planted either in early spring or in the fall. The plant generally makes it through winter with no trouble, so seeds can even be planted in late fall to get the plant growing very early in spring.

Fennel is an easy plant to grow. It appreciates well drained, loose soil and should not be over watered. Average soil preparation and weeding will produce good results.

All parts on the plant are edible -- the leaves, stems, seeds and roots. The swollen stems at the base of the plant are the part that is most often harvested. Fennel leaves can be snipped off for use as a seasoning as soon as they appear on the plant. Fennel will need about 80 days of active growth for the stems to reach full size, and a few weeks longer for the seeds to form. Care must be taken to harvest the seeds when ripe but before they scatter and are lost. Wait until the seeds start to turn brown, and then cut the seed heads and place them immediately in a paper bag that will catch the seeds as they fall off. The seeds should be allowed to dry thoroughly and stored in airtight containers. Fennel leaves can also be dried or frozen for later use as a seasoning.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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