Fennel is still little known to Russian gardeners. Outwardly, it very much resembles the usual dill, but its taste is very different, and its aroma is not so pronounced. Nevertheless, this spice, popular in Mediterranean countries, is very healthy. Therefore, it is quite possible to take a place in the garden for an unusual exoticism.
Fennel and dill familiar to Russian gardeners belong to the same Umbrella family. Outwardly, they are extremely similar, but that is where the similarities end. The aroma of fennel greens is more reminiscent of anise, the taste is spicy, with light notes of sweetness, a powerful bush (from 90-100 cm high). In terms of the content of vitamins, microelements and other healthy substances, fennel is noticeably superior to dill.
In nature, fennel successfully takes root on almost bare stones, but the gardener will have to work hard to get the harvest.
The homeland of this culture is the Mediterranean (North Africa, Southeast and Western Europe). Some varieties are found in Western Asia, South America and New Zealand. In nature, it grows like a weed, practically on bare stones.
Fennel bushes can be quite compact, but the root system of the plant is powerful, developed
Its healing properties have been known since antiquity. Egyptian, Greek and Arab scholars were well aware of them. The plant is mentioned in their writings by Hippocrates, Pliny, Avicenna. And in the Middle Ages, fennel was credited with the supernatural ability to exorcise evil spirits. A bunch of greenery was necessarily hung over the front door.
In general, fennel is a perennial crop, but the climate in most of Russia allows it to be grown only as an annual plant. The culture accustomed to the tropical climate will not survive the Ural and Siberian winters, even if you provide it with shelter.
Vegetable fennel is easily identified by the characteristic bulb at the base of the stem.
There are two varieties - root and vegetable (also known as Italian or Florentine). The first is distinguished by the presence of a powerful rhizome with a diameter of more than 1 cm, resembling a spindle in shape. The second of the leaf petioles at the base of the stem forms small heads of cabbage, similar to bulbs. Gardeners most often grow vegetable fennel. All parts of the plant are edible - greens, fruits, and heads of cabbage.
Fennel heads of cabbage are usually quite dense.
The stem of fennel is erect, hollow, rounded, intensively branching closer to the apex. The height of the plant varies from 0.9 m to 2 m. The leaves are shaped like dill (strongly dissected feathery), but differ in color - in fennel they are slightly lighter, with a bluish or silvery-white tint. It is especially noticeable on the upper leaves.
Fennel, if seeds ripen, easily propagates by self-sowing
The plant blooms in July-August. The flowers are small, yellow or yellow-green, collected in umbrella-shaped inflorescences. Their diameter varies from 3-4 cm to 12-15 cm. Fruits of olive or grayish-green color ripen in mid-September. Having matured, they split in two and quickly crumble. They also have a characteristic aniseed aroma and a light sweetish aftertaste.
Not all gardeners can see the flowering of fennel.
The plant blooms for the first time the next season after planting in the ground, so Russian gardeners most often do not observe this phenomenon. Accordingly, it is impossible to independently collect fennel seeds.
In terms of the content of vitamins and microelements, fennel is far ahead of the usual dill. Particularly noteworthy are vitamins of group B, A, C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, copper, chromium, iron.
All parts of fennel are widely used in traditional medicine. It is on its basis that the well-known dill water is prepared, which is used as a diuretic, antispasmodic and disinfectant. Its action is very mild, it is recommended even for infants with colic, bloating and intestinal cramps.
Fennel essential oil normalizes the condition of the gastrointestinal tract, helps to remove toxins and toxins from the body. It is also indicated in order to eliminate the effects of overeating and to improve appetite. In aromatherapy, it is used to relieve chronic stress, to get rid of unreasonable anxiety. This remedy also helps to normalize the state of the nervous system with frequent bouts of aggression and simply improves mood.
Fennel essential oil has a pronounced calming effect, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system
Fennel leaf tincture has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It is used externally for the treatment of fungal diseases, wound healing, ulcers, dermatitis and other skin problems.
In dry form, fennel is part of many expectorant fees. They are prescribed for bronchitis, pneumonia, laryngitis, and other respiratory diseases.
A decoction of herbs is recommended for women who are breastfeeding. It has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on lactation. And for pregnant women, this remedy helps to get rid of bouts of morning sickness and regain appetite. It is also useful for gum problems and bad breath.
Decoction of fennel leaves is extremely beneficial for women during pregnancy and lactation.
Fennel leaves and seeds are widely used in cooking. It is practically an integral part of the Mediterranean cuisine. They are added to salads (even fruit), soups, meat and fish dishes. Fennel is also suitable for home canning. It can be included in recipes for pickled tomatoes, cucumbers, and sauerkraut. Heads of cabbage are also eaten. They are boiled or baked whole, used as a side dish. The seeds are added to the filling of all kinds of confectionery and bread dough, they are used to flavor alcoholic beverages.
Fennel heads are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine
There are also contraindications. It is strictly forbidden to use fennel for epilepsy. And if you eat it immoderately, it is quite possible to earn an upset stomach and intestines. There is also an allergic reaction. Fennel should be used with caution for those who suffer from frequent bouts of diarrhea.
Fennel seeds are widely used in both traditional medicine and cooking.
There are not so many varieties and hybrids of fennel. Most of them are vegetable varieties. But there are also decorative varieties that are widely used in landscape design. They are distinguished by an unusual shade of leaves.
Fennel varieties grown by gardeners:
Fennel is deservedly considered a fairly demanding crop for growing conditions. In Russia, where the climate is radically different from his usual Mediterranean, his wishes should definitely be heeded if there is a desire to harvest.
The fennel bed must be located in a place well warmed by the sun. In the shade and partial shade, the heads of cabbage practically do not form, the greens coarse, the aroma becomes weak. Fennel loves heat, but does not tolerate extreme heat and drought very well. Therefore, it is advisable to build a canopy over the garden bed from any white covering material that protects the planting from direct sunlight. Paradoxically, the plant does not need a long day of light.
At the edges, it is advisable to limit the bed with slate sheets dug to a depth of 20-25 cm - with a moisture deficit, fennel forms long roots, which can easily reach neighboring beds and deprive the crops grown there of water.
Good neighbors for fennel are cucumbers and cabbage. All these plants need abundant watering. In addition, with its aroma, fennel repels many pests, which cucumbers and cabbage do not lack, and attracts pollinating insects. But the spinach, caraway seeds, beans, bell peppers located nearby affect the culture negatively, inhibiting its growth and development. Any tall plants (such as corn) create unwanted shade.
Cucumbers get along well with fennel - both crops need abundant watering
It is best to plant fennel where vegetables were previously grown that require large doses of organic fertilizers (potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers). If a new bed is being prepared, in the fall it is thoroughly dug up, cleared of plant debris, humus or rotted compost (8–10 kg per linear meter) is introduced. Fresh manure is categorically excluded. Of the mineral fertilizers, only phosphorus and potash fertilizers are needed (10–15 g per running meter). Then the bed is covered with a film and left until spring.
Humus introduced into the garden has a positive effect on the fertility of the substrate
Light sandy soil, as well as heavy clay soil, is not suitable for a plant. The best option is black soil, gray soil or loam with a slightly alkaline reaction. To neutralize acidic soil, slaked lime, dolomite flour, crushed chalk, sifted wood ash are introduced.
Dolomite flour is a natural soil deoxidizer, if you follow the dosage, there will be no side effects
The substrate in which the fennel is planted must be well moisturized. In this regard, lowlands are suitable, where melt water stays for a long time. But there is often not enough sun. Therefore, about a week before the procedure, you need to carry out moisture-charging watering.
The optimum temperature for germination of fennel seeds is at least 20 ° C. They will not die even at 10 ° C, but in this case, you will have to wait for seedlings at least a month. It is important to follow the planting pattern and provide the plants with sufficient watering. Otherwise, vegetable fennel is likely to go into the arrowhead.
Fennel can be planted in the same place for 3-4 years. Then the soil becomes impoverished, this negatively affects the yield.
Summer in most of Russia is rather short and unpredictable in terms of weather. And the growing season for some varieties of fennel (especially vegetable) is 4 months or even more. Therefore, in order for the crop to ripen, it is advisable to grow it with seedlings.
Seeds remain viable for three years. They are sown in such a way that the seedlings of root varieties are transferred to a permanent place in the first half of May, and vegetables - in the last decade of June. With an earlier planting, the plants may stretch out due to a lack of heat, the heads of cabbage will not form. Due to the high concentration of essential oils, fennel seeds take a long time to germinate. It will take about 20 days to wait for seedlings, this is normal for culture. In general, growing seedlings takes about 9-10 weeks.
Fennel seeds germinate for a long time, the gardener will have to be patient
Seedlings are grown according to the following algorithm:
Fennel seedlings are planted in the ground only when it becomes warm enough outside.
About a week before planting the seedlings, the soil in the garden should be well loosened and leveled. Simultaneously, simple superphosphate is introduced in the same dosage as in the fall. Phosphorus is especially necessary for vegetable varieties.
Fennel seedlings are ready for planting in the ground in 45-50 days. The interval between plants is about 40 cm, between rows - 50-60 cm. If the pots are peat, you do not need to remove them from the containers. Fennel is buried in the ground to the first cotyledon leaves. Then the planting must be watered abundantly. Until the seedlings take root and start growing, they are especially carefully protected from direct sunlight.
When planting seeds directly into the ground, they are sown as evenly as possible in the grooves with an interval of 50–60 cm between them.From above they are covered with peat chips or humus (layer 1.5–2 cm thick) and watered. Until the seeds germinate, the bed is covered with plastic wrap or black covering material. The best time for the procedure is the first half of May.
When thinning plantings, extra fennel seedlings are not pulled out, but cut at the root
7–10 days after the emergence of seedlings, they are thinned out, leaving 20–25 cm between neighboring plants if it is vegetable fennel and 10–15 cm if it is root. Excess seedlings are not pulled out, but cut with scissors.
In regions with a warm climate, where it is possible to grow fennel as a perennial, it is practiced to sow seeds in the fall, at the end of July or in August. In October, plantings will definitely need to be insulated, covered with a layer of humus, peat, needles, sawdust at least 10 cm thick.
In leaving, fennel is quite demanding. The main thing that is needed for the normal development of plants is proper watering.
Fennel does not like competitors, so the soil in the garden needs to be weeded regularly. Each time, about half an hour after watering, it must be carefully loosened to a depth of 3-5 cm.
Vegetable varieties are huddled 2-3 times during the season, building an earthen mound 5-7 cm high at the base of the stem. This contributes to the formation of heads of cabbage of the correct shape with a beautiful white color.
If fennel is grown as a perennial plant and solely for the sake of green mass, it is recommended to cut the flower stalks as they form so that the bush does not waste energy on them.
Fennel is a very moisture-loving plant. If it's cool outside, water it every 4–5 days, spending 15 liters per 1 m². In extreme heat and with prolonged drought, the soil will have to be moistened daily or even twice a day. The best method is drip or sprinkler irrigation to evenly wet the substrate.
Fennel is a moisture-loving culture, it needs to be watered often and regularly.
The lighter the soil, the more often you will have to carry out the procedure. Mulch will help to retain moisture in the soil. It will also save the gardener time for weeding.
Fennel prefers organic fertilizers. The first time the seedlings are fed 12-15 days after planting in the ground, then every three weeks. The plant is watered with infusion of cow dung, bird droppings, nettle or dandelion greens. The raw material is poured with warm water, infused for 3-4 days in a container under a closed lid. Before using it, filter it, dilute with water in a ratio of 1: 8 (if it is droppings, then twice as much) and add a tablespoon of simple superphosphate per 10 liters. You can also use an infusion of wood ash and commercial fertilizers based on vermicompost.
Nettle infusion is a natural source of nitrogen and phosphorus for fennel
Fennel will not survive the winter in most Russian regions. Therefore, as a perennial plant, it is cultivated only in the southern subtropical climate (Black Sea region, Crimea, Caucasus). To prepare the fennel for the cold, in mid-October, all available stems are cut to ground level, leaving no stumps, the soil at the roots is gently loosened. As fertilizer, sifted wood ash can be scattered over the garden bed. It contains phosphorus and potassium necessary for plants at this time of year.
Then the bed is covered with humus, peat crumbs, sawdust, fallen leaves, needles. It is necessary to create a layer about 10 cm thick. It is undesirable to use straw. Mice often settle in it. If the winter is promised to be especially harsh, you can cover the bed with spruce branches or tighten it with burlap, any covering material that allows air to pass through. As soon as enough snow falls, it is thrown over from above, forming a snowdrift.
Some varieties of fennel may well be grown at home as potted crops. In captivity, the plant rarely exceeds 0.5 m in height, but heads of cabbage are formed despite this, if the roots are not disturbed. It is advisable to choose a volumetric container for it, with a diameter of 25-30 cm. A large drainage hole is mandatory.
Fennel can be grown in a pot on a windowsill, the dimensions of the plant allow it
For growing fennel, a universal soil for indoor plants with the addition of fertile turf (3: 1) is quite suitable. To prevent the development of fungal diseases, a little crushed chalk or activated carbon is added to the finished mixture.
Seeds are sown in pots of 3-4 pieces. At the bottom of the container, a drainage layer 2-3 cm thick is required. Then they act in the same way as when growing seedlings. The greens can be cut when the height of the bush reaches 30–35 cm; it takes an average of 2.5–3 months for the heads of cabbage to ripen.
Fennel does not like direct sunlight, as well as intense heat, so a pot with a plant is placed on the windowsill of a window facing east or west. For the summer, you can take it out into the fresh air.
Plant care consists in regular watering and feeding. Fertilizers are applied every 2–2.5 weeks, using any store-bought means based on vermicompost. Water the fennel as soon as the topsoil dries 1.5–2 cm deep. In extreme heat, you can additionally spray the plant or increase the humidity in other ways.
Fennel by nature has good immunity, so it rarely suffers from diseases. And the spicy smell inherent in greens quite effectively scares away many pests from it. But sometimes infection still cannot be avoided.
The best prevention is proper plant care. Timely watering and feeding are especially important. It is also imperative to follow the landing pattern. If the plants in the garden are closely spaced, diseases spread much faster.
Of the diseases for fennel, the most dangerous are:
The culture is affected by the following pests:
The fennel greens are cut when the plant reaches a height of 30–35 cm. At this time, its aroma is most pronounced, and the leaves are still quite delicate. Heads of cabbage are considered ripe when their diameter reaches 8–10 cm. Most often they are cut off at the very surface of the soil. But if you leave a stump with a height of 2-3 cm, in a couple of weeks fresh greens will begin to grow in this place. The best time for the procedure is early in the morning (before the dew has dried) or in the evening after sunset.
Fresh greens and cabbages can be stored for a week in the refrigerator, in a special compartment for vegetables and fruits, wrapped in plastic wrap. The shelf life of the latter can be extended to 6–8 weeks by burying it in a box with sand, which is placed in a basement, cellar, or other room with a temperature of 2–4 ° C, low humidity and good ventilation. First, remove all the leaves from the heads of cabbage and cut off the stem, leaving only the petiole 8-10 cm long, and also dry it for 2-3 days in the open air.
Fennel cabbages intended for storage should not show even the slightest signs of damage typical of diseases and insects.
Fennel seeds are harvested when the flowers' umbrellas change color from yellowish green to brown. They are cut and hung to dry in a room with a temperature not exceeding 30 ° C, providing good ventilation and spreading a newspaper or cloth underneath. Dried seeds spill out on their own. Then they need to be cleaned of plant debris. Store them in paper bags or linen bags in a dry, cool, dark room.
Fennel is dried in the same way as any other greens.
Fennel greens are dried in the same way. It does not lose its characteristic aroma for 1.5-2 years and retains its benefits. You can also freeze it. To do this, the leaves are separated from the stems, washed, dried, laid out on trays or baking sheets covered with paper and sent to the freezer for 2-3 minutes, which is included in the shock freeze mode. Finished leaves are placed in small portions in special bags with a sealed fastener. You will not be able to defrost and freeze them again - the fennel will turn into an unappetizing slimy gruel. It can be stored in the freezer for 6–8 months.
Dried fennel retains its taste and aroma for 1.5-2 years
Fennel is widely used in cooking and traditional medicine. You cannot call it an easy-to-care plant, but the efforts expended by the gardener are paid off by the harvest. In most of Russia, it is grown as an annual crop, so you don't have to bother with shelter for the winter. Breeders have bred quite a few varieties, each gardener can choose the most suitable one for himself.
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Fennel is a herbaceous plant of the Umbrella family. In its natural environment, it grows in southern Europe, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. The greens of the culture, similar to dill, have a pleasant aroma. She has a sweet taste reminiscent of anise. Thanks to this, the plant is used in cooking.
It is customary to divide culture into two types:
The plant reaches a height of 1.5-2 meters. It has a powerful rhizome and a branched stem. Green leaves are divided into filamentous fibers. Small peduncles are collected in baskets. After them, oblong, grayish fruits with a soft, pleasant smell are formed.
Eukomis is a perennial herb. The bulbs, reaching 80 mm in diameter, are oval in shape. There are also many glossy basal leaf plates, their shape is belt-like or ovoid. The height of the cylindrical peduncles is about 100 centimeters. They grow racemose inflorescences, which are outwardly similar to pineapple, they reach about 0.3 m in length. The flowers are wheel-shaped, they are painted in light green or white with a purple or brownish tint. The flowers include 6 lobes of lanceolate perianths fused at the base, and 6 more fused stamens, which have swinging anthers. At the very top of the flower arrow above the flowers there is a bunch, which includes from 10 to 20 bracts of green color, it is thanks to them that this plant looks like a pineapple. The fruit is a three-ribbed box of a flat-rounded shape, inside there are ovoid or rounded seeds of a dark brown or black color.
There are different varieties of chard beet on sale: white, green, pink, burgundy and yellow, as well as mixtures of all varieties, allowing you to get a wonderful rainbow effect on one plate. Beets are very decorative and pleases with flowers from spring to late autumn.
Some varieties are characterized by leafy streaks of white and silver, and the leaves themselves are green or purple-violet. The stems of chard are of various colors - red, pink, orange or yellow. In some varieties, they reach a thickness of 5 cm. The flowers and fruits of the plant look like beets.
Popular varieties of chard:
Cortaderia can be propagated by two methods: seed and vegetative (by dividing the rhizome or bush). The best time for breeding is spring, but the threat of return frosts should be left behind.
Small planters are ideal for planting seeds. A sandy soil mixture is best suited, which must include peat, as well as the optimal amount of nutrients. Some gardeners recommend using peat tablets for sowing pampas grass.
Fill the container with the substrate and level the surface. Spread the seeds evenly over it, but you do not need to press them into the soil mixture or sprinkle them on top. The seeds are very small, so try to place them as far apart as possible. When sowing is complete, moisten the mixture with a spray bottle. Crops are kept at room temperature. In this case, the appearance of the first seedlings occurs approximately 2–2.5 weeks after sowing.
When the seedlings grow up and get stronger, they are seated in separate cups. Their planting in open ground can be carried out after the threat of spring frosts has passed, and the plants themselves become strong, and their stems are strong.