Harvesting fennel bulbs from your garden is simple, but it’s important to harvest them at the right time for the best tasting bulbs.
In this article I’ll tell you when fennel is ready to harvest, the best way to harvest it, and give you tips for cooking and storing fennel bulbs from your garden.
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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an herb in the same family as dill and cilantro and all parts of the plant are edible.
It has a large white bulb that grows at the base of the plant, with ferny, green leaves and yellow flowers that look like Queen Anne’s lace.
Fennel grows best in cool climates because it can bolt to seed quickly if the weather becomes too hot.
Fennel is a good choice for beginner gardeners because it has few problems with insects or diseases, and only needs minimal care.
When to harvest fennel bulbs
Fennel bulbs are ready to harvest 12 to 14 weeks after planting when the bulb is around two inches (5 cm) wide or about the same size as a tennis ball.
If you leave the bulbs in the ground for too long they’ll be tough and not very nice to eat, so for the best flavor, make sure to harvest them before they get too big.
How to harvest fennel bulbs
First, cut the stalks and leaves off the top of the plant using a knife or a pair of garden shears.
Leave about an inch of the stalk attached to the top of the bulb.
Gently clear the soil away from around the bulb using your hands and cut the bulb away from the roots using a sharp knife.
How many fennel bulbs do you get per plant?
Each plant produces only one bulb but they grow quickly so you won’t have to wait too long to harvest them.
It’s a good idea to plant a few seeds every couple of weeks or make two plantings a month or two apart so that they’re not all ready to harvest at the same time.
How to store fennel bulbs?
Fennel is best used straight after harvesting when it has the most flavor, but you can also store it if you have too much to use at once.
Fennel bulbs can be stored for several days in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.
You can also stand the fennel bulb in a bowl with an inch of water in the bottom or slice and freeze fennel in an airtight bag for up to six months.
How to harvest fennel leaves
You can snip a few fennel leaves off the plants as you need them to add flavor to vegetable dishes, salads, eggs or meats.
Choose the young, tender growth because it’s more tender and full of flavor.
Cutting a few fennel fronds off the plants won’t harm them but don’t take too many leaves at once.
How to harvest fennel seeds
If you’d like to harvest fennel seeds as well as the bulbs you’ll need to have multiple plants because the bulbs are harvested before the plants go to seed.
Fennel seeds can be harvested when the flower heads turn brown.
Don’t leave the flowers for too long after they’ve turned brown because the seeds may fall onto the ground.
Cut the flower stems and place the flowers on a tray in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to dry out.
After a week or two you can give the flowers a shake to release the seeds and store them in an envelope or airtight container until you’re ready to plant them.
How to use fennel?
Fennel can be eaten raw in salads and slaws if it’s shaved or sliced finely.
It can also be added to soups, stews or any other dishes that you’d normally add celery to.
Fennel seeds can be crushed and used as a seasoning or you can make fennel tea from them.
So there are my tips for harvesting and storing fennel from your garden.
Do you have any comments or questions about harvesting fennel? Let me know in the comment section below.