Am I actually supposed to EAT fennel?

mmqchdygg(Z5NH)November 17, 2009

I was reading my new Pinetree Seeds catalog last night, and while it mentioned nothing about butterfly attraction, it said that fennel is grown for its root and anise flavored seeds. It also said that it "may" overwinter (about 50% of the time was the quote for Foeniculum vulgare. Since PT is in Maine, I took that as good notation for my area- being right next door & all...)

Unfortunately, I cut it back recently- just the seed part; the plant itself I left about 18" tall... (that was before I read berner's tip on NOT cutting stuff back yesterday), so obviously I will not have seeds. But now I'm wondering if I should also either:

a) dig it up for the root (what would I actually DO with it?)

b) leave it there and it'll either live or die

c) make sure I plant another batch of it this coming season

d) B&C

Also, anyone in New England use a different fennel than "Florence?" I hear lots about "Bronze," but the Florence seemed to be somewhat attractive to the BFs here; should I switch for better results? Does the Bronze have that most-excellent anise scent in the fall, as well? My garden was absolutely FILLED with the scent in Sept/Oct.

Thanks for the tips.

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wesley_butterflies(5b/6)

Responce A kind of says: Try your hand at growing some of it inside, worse case seneral is you get to buy new in spring which your willing to do in responce C
Responce B would be a bonus on the better side
So I pick E All of the abouve

Part B Bronze vs Florence: How do they say that line " what ever doesn't kill us we can learn from "
In a nut shell I see a few, In my opinion responces
Try em both and enjoy the results.

Part C use of fennel: Yes you can eat/drink and use fennal, how to use best is something I know very little about it is most commonly found in the bottled spice shelves at the grocery store as an herb. Google how to use fennel and you'll see 35 million ideas on fennel

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 10:20AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Definitely D. As to eating fennel, I have used fennel seeds in homemade rye bread. It's also good toasted on salads--if you like that licorice flavor. I've never eaten the root.

My experience with growing it, is that the Florence is not always hardy. The bronze is considered to be perennial. I have lost Florence during cold winters here in Oklahoma (zone 7). Florence is easy to grow from seed. I grew quite a bit last winter--it can be winter sown. You can also make sure that when you cut off the seeds, you drop some on the ground. Fennel, dill, and parsley reseed easily.

HTH,

Sandy

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 11:54AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The Florence fennel is probably the most commonly used in cooking, and is DELICIOUS! I like it raw and cooked.

Try it sliced up in a salad with your favorite ingredients. Mine would have mixed greens, cukes, sweet onion, fresh tomato, seedless grapes, oranges slices, and toasted pecans or walnuts. The fennel makes a wonderful addition.

Roast it with onions for a side with almost any meat. Just soat with olive oil and roast it until carmelized.

Saute it with onions and celery to combine in your rice dishes. Or add to soups after lightly saute-ing.

YUM!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 12:11PM
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mmqchdygg(Z5NH)

Ok, you've convinced me, rhizo...I'm off to google images of BF eggs & chrysalises (chrisali? LOL) so I don't screw anything up before I yank 'em.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 1:11PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I grow both the bronze and the Florence. I also grow Rue which they consume just as readily as the fennel, and Zizia aptera as a back up, which they sometimes lay eggs on and eat when the fennels in the front yard are chewed down.

Differentiating between the "varieties" of fennel is somewhat confusing because there is a lot of conflicting information floating around on the web. However, Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce is the most commonly grown fennel, and is used for its seeds, foliage, and the stalks (similar in texture and eaten like celery). It is perennial in temperate climates, like Oklahoma. The Bronze is a close relative, F. vulgare var. purpurescens, used in the same fashion as the dulce. F. vulgare var. azoricum is used for seeds, foliage, and the bulbous base is used as a vegetable (you've probably seen in the produce section of the supermarket). Calling them Florence fennel leads to more confusion cuz I find both referred to as Florence, depending on the writer.

The butterflies don't care which one you use. thank goodness! The azoricum is less hardy than the dulce, but both are short-lived perennials IMHO, and are borderline hardy in Oklahoma, where winter extremes are variable from year to year. The good thing is that they do self-sow readily. That said, one year I had to remove the flowers due to a heavy wasp invasion. They loved the fennel flowers and the baby BSTs.

I personally like the bulb fennel the best because produces more lush foliage which in a good winter stays green and full. I just don't use the bulbs. It has lasted 4 or 5 years max for me. The Bronze seems more prone to winter die back than the bulb, and I have to generally buy new plants.

So, there you have my explanation and interpretation on the performance of fennel in my zone 7a garden.

Susan

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 9:47AM
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