Fennel

The lacy leaves of fennel are a beautiful addition to flower gardens. If you clip a few stems and mix them with nasturtiums and calendula, you will have created an attractive and edible centerpiece! Did you know that planting fennel in your garden helps to repel pesky slugs & snails?

* Fennel is a perennial herb but is grown as an annual and can reach 2-5 feet in height.

* The 6 inch wide umbels of tiny yellow flowers will appear in midsummer.

* Fennel’s feathery, blue green leaves look very remarkably like those of dill.

* If you like the taste of licorice or anise flavor & fragrance, then you are going to love fennel! Both seeds and leaves can be eaten.

* Two weeks before your last frost date, fennel seed can be planted. If you should live South of Zone 5, you can also plant the seeds in the fall.

* Though fennel loves full sun, it will tolerate partial shade. Fennel requires a moderately fertile soil, well drained, moist soil. Fennel will not tolerate its feet wet though. It is prone to root rot in soggy soils! Keep this in mind when you are choosing a spot in your garden to grow this lovely herb!

* Space plants 6 inches apart.

* This is an herb that is largely pest free.

* Harvest the leaves before the plant blooms, gathering them in the morning when the dew is dry. If you harvest the seeds, you will want to gather them on a dry day.

* You can harvest the individual leaves as needed throughout the growing season. If you are harvesting leaves for drying, cut the whole stem. If there are seed heads on the stems, you will want to enclose them in a paper bag to prevent the seeds from shattering to the ground as they dry. Hang the stems upside down in a dry, dark place. When completely dry, remove the leaves (or if you are drying the seed heads - remove the seeds) and then place the herb in an air tight container, label and store in a cool dark place until ready to use in recipes.

* You may want to freeze leaves in ice cubes and just pop them in the recipe. Be sure to measure each cube before freezing so you remember how much is in each cube!

* Leaves can be used in salads, fish, pork, eggs, cheese, beans, rice, and any of the cabbage family veggies. Seeds can be added to sauerkraut, Asian dishes, fish, lentils, breads, butters & cheese spreads. Since Fennel’s anise/licorice flavor fades quickly when heated, you will want to add it just before serving!

* Did you know that a Fennel infusion aids in digestion and reduces colic in infants and flatulence in adults?

Tips
* * Did you know that a Fennel infusion aids in digestion and reduces colic in infants and flatulence in adults?

* Fennel contains a volatile oil that produces an allergic reaction in some people who touch the seeds. Use with caution until you find out if you are one of these people!

THINK HERBS!