Fennel, whose botanical name is Foeniculum vulgaris, is a vegetable widely used in Italian cuisine, both cooked and raw. It is characterized by a strong and unique taste, with a particular note of anise. The leaves and seeds are also consumed, which are equally fragrant.
It is native to the Mediterranean basin: it needs consequently rather high temperatures and sunny exposures to grow and give its best.
What is generally called fennel is Foeniculum vulgaris, cultivated for the stem formed by fleshy scales and for the seed that is used as spices to give flavor to the most varied dishes.
The plant can reach 70-80 centimeters in height. Usually the plants are arranged in rows; it is advisable to leave a distance of about 20 cm between one plant and another.
The distance between the rows must be instead of 50-60 cm in order to be able to tuck the plants in later.
Fennel plants can be grown as annuals or biennials, depending on the type of cultivation chosen. Usually the plants transplanted in spring produce seeds before winter.
The most used varieties are:
White Perfection - It is sown from mid-March to the end of April; it is a fairly early variety harvested in the months of July August. Presents a lump of good size, compact, sweet and crunchy. It does not produce seeds.
Di Parma - Medium late winter variety; it is sown from June to the end of August and is harvested from September to November-December ... The heart is large and crunchy. The seed canes are full.
For the cultivation of Foeniculum vulgaris, the ideal is to have a medium-textured soil, with a good presence of organic substance; the ideal climate is the temperate one even if the fennel plant adapts to live even in areas with a more rigid climate.
Before sowing it is advisable to make a deep digging of the soil and administer complex fertilizer (with microelements) at a rate of 80 g per square meter; sowing is carried out by spreading the seedlings with subsequent planting. Watering must be fairly frequent; it is also recommended to often combine calcium nitrate fertilizers with water. The soil must always be kept clean by weeds and must be tucked up a month before harvesting to maintain the white and crispy stem. This plant is sown in January February in southern Italy for subsequent harvesting in June / July. In the colder regions, because the harvest can take place in late summer, it is necessary to postpone sowing for one or two months; the plant can also be purchased already at a height of 7-8 cm.
Harvesting occurs when the grumuli have reached a size proportionate to the variety planted; these must be removed with the taproot and then cut together with the leaves at a height of 14-16cm. It is good practice to eliminate the outer scales before consumption.
The pests that mostly affect the fennel plants are the snails, which eat the leaves, and the grillitalpas that eat the plants at the collar, especially when the seedlings are young.
THE FENNEL CALENDAR
Sow in the South
|Sowing in the Center-North||From March to September|
|Collected in the South||summer|
|Collection in the Center-North||Autumn-early winter|
Characteristics of fennel
Fennel (foeniculum vulgare var. Dulce) is a biennial herbaceous plant, cultivated mostly as an annual, belonging to the Apiaceae family. The flower stems develop only from the second year and can reach 80 cm in height. The radical leaves over time become fleshy and thick, wrapping one another and forming a base about 20 cm in diameter, tender but compact, greenish-white in color.
The stems bloom with umbrella formations, as is typical of this family, from July to September. The corollas are of a beautiful yellow color. By maturing, flat and oblong seeds develop.
The major European producers of fennel are Italy and Spain. In both countries, in fact, it is possible to grow this vegetable at any time of the year, since it requires rather high temperatures. It becomes a huge crop during the winter months.
History of fennel
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean basin and Asia Minor, where, still today, there are several varieties in the spontaneous state. It is known and used since ancient times: it was commonly cultivated as a vegetable by the Greeks and Romans. It was also used for the preparation of medicinal potions.
In the Middle Ages, especially in the conventual context, the search to improve the available varieties began. Through the centuries, we have arrived at the vegetable we know today, with the basal leaves very enlarged, tender but crunchy.
THE FENNEL IN BRIEF
Type of plant
Biennial herbaceous grown as an annual
|Height at maturity||From 60 cm to 1 m|
|Width at maturity||Up to 80 cm|
|Growth||From slow to normal depending on the period|
|Resistance to the cold||Not very resistant|
|Exposure||Light sun-shadow (in the South)|
|Ground||Light, well-drained, rich|
|Germination / temperature times||12/10 ° C|