(Finocchio, Sweet Fennel) Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum. Full Sun. Perennial. Height: up to 3 – 5’. Florence fennel, also known as finocchio, is one of the most decorative garden vegetables, grown for the succulent, aniseed-flavoured bulb which develops from the swollen bases of the leaf stalks. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult vegetables to bring to maturity, due to its sensitivity to any adverse conditions it encounters.
In the Garden
Fennel grows best in a sunny position on light sandy soil, though any fertile, well drained soil into which plenty of organic matter has been worked will do. Florence fennel is a difficult crop, as plants tend to bolt rather than swell at the base. Some cultivars are sensitive to day-length, and bolt if sown before mid-summer; growth checks caused by water shortage, low temperatures, fluctuating temperatures or transplant shock may also result in premature bolting. Improved cultivars are continually being developed which have better resistance to bolting, though none is perfect. Pleasantly warm summers with plenty of moisture are ideal conditions for fennel. Florence fennel will withstand light frost towards the end of the season.
The bulbs and aromatic leaves can be cut and used in salads and cooked in many dishes. Bulb slices mixed
with other salad greens are excellent as a ‘bed’ for fish and chicken dishes.Lends interesting flavor backgrounds
to sauces and soups.