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Fennel, Fennel, and more Fennel

July 27th, 2017

I’ve loved fennel for quite awhile. I’ve tried growing it for just as long, without much success. It never failed that my fennel bolted before it formed bulbs, I probably count on one hand the number of bulbs I was able to harvest in all my years of trying to grow it. Then, two years ago I tried ‘Preludio’ fennel from Johnny’s and was finally able to produce fennel bulbs with remarkable consistency. This spring, I decided to see if it was actually the variety or the conditions here in my Maine garden that caused my success.

I seeded the same number of ‘Preludio’ and the heirloom variety ‘Florence’. I planted them in the garden and watched them closely. Out of the 8 plants of each I transplanted, only one ‘Florence’ produced a bulb, the rest bolted. As you can see by the image below, the ‘Preludio’ is on the left, ‘Florence’ bulb bolted in the middle, and the single bulb of ‘Florence’.

‘Preludio’ also produced much larger and tighter bulbs. We did a taste test and they were the same in taste and texture. Overall, I’ll keep growing ‘Preludio’ since it ensures my success with fennel. If you’ve struggled to grow fennel in your garden, give this variety a try. Another tip is to not disturb the roots. Seed in a soil block if possible and transplant before the roots get too big. Root disruption can be on the causes of bolting in fennel.

Do you eat fennel? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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