That innovation and resourcefulness all centers around giving each plant species the best chance at survival, so the fact that seeds are often delicious is no accident. Here are some tips on how to harvest fennel seeds so you don’t miss out on this delicious part of this amazing herb. From tiny chickadees to lumbering black bears, our surrounding forests are full of hungry seed transporters and germinators, unintentionally working for plant-life as they enjoy a late-summer or autumn snack. But in our home gardens, where we aren’t frequently growing the grain and beans that make up the bulk of our meals, edible seeds often go ignored in respect to their culinary potential. A perfect little bite of flavor, fennel seeds can be harvested once the flowers have begun to dry out and turn brown, but before the seeds begin to drop off the plant. Cut the bulb with a sharp knife at the soil surface. This may re-sprout and produce a second harvest of smaller, tender shoots. As a longtime seed enthusiast, it’s easy for me to get hyperbolic when talking about the genius held within these sometimes miniscule, sometimes massive vessels. To harvest, you can cut the bulb at its base, right where it meets the soil. Sign up for our newsletter. The bulb is ready for harvest once it reaches the size of a tennis ball. Cercospora leaf blight creates necrotic flecks on the leaves, which will then develop a chlorotic halo and become brown. When the time is right, grab a paper bag and some scissors. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to To dry the seeds for later use, drop the blooms into a paper sack. Fennel is also one of those marvelous plants that provide us with an edible part at every stage of growth, including its last gift to the harvest season: the fennel seed. All rights reserved. Fruit will show shallow, dry wounds. All images and content are copyrighted 2020 ©. Learning Download: Common pests and diseases: Fennel. Fennel, which can be grown in both bulb or non-bulb varieties, is a hearty crop even in some of the coldest northern climates. Give it a good shake. Harvest after about 80-100 days. Once all fennel seeds have come loose, separate them from the stems and other plant matter. Go out and find some fennel. If the seeds don’t seem completely dried out, lay them out in a single layer on a cloth for a few days or put them in a dehydrator set on low for a few hours. Fennel is a culinary herb, a spice, a vegetable, a medicinal, and an excellent addition to any garden. After shoots appear, water frequently so the bulb doesn’t dry out. Hold each seed head over a bowl and dislodge the remaining seeds with your fingers. Plant fennel plenty far away from other garden plants to discourage cross pollination. Fennel may need to be staked once it reaches 18 inches tall, as some plants can grow up to 4 feet. Fennel is an herb that grows freely in gardens throughout the USDA hardiness zones 5-10. Ships annually. If the plant is older when the cutworms arrive, there may be irregular holes eaten into the fruit. Perfectly designed to store, travel, fly or stick. First, cut each seed head off of the fennel plant. Continue to harvest leaves as needed throughout the season. To treat, plant tolerant species and avoid too much fertilizing. Do not remove more than one-third of the vegetative growth to ensure the plant will continue to grow. They give Italian dishes authenticity, add flavor to bread and chutneys. Fennel is also one of those marvelous plants that provide us with an edible part at every stage of growth, including its last gift to the harvest season: the fennel seed. Trimming the plant will create a bushier look, better for privacy screening. 11. Until the shoots appear, water only by spraying with a spray bottle. This usually takes from one to two weeks. Harvesting fennel bulbs straight from your garden can be a treat for you, too. Some of the common diseases affecting fennel include Cercospora leaf blight, downy mildew, powdery mildew and rust. Only take a few leaves at a time to not cause harm to the plant. This beautifully written and meticulously illustrated book is my favorite resource when teaching both young people and adults alike about the seed cycle. The flower umbels (the umbrella-like flower clusters) are both beautiful and tasty as an edible garnish in food and drinks. At that point, you should be able to shake the bag vigorously to detach the seeds from the heads. If you need further assistance, we're always available to help. Attuned to their often hyper-specific environments. Harvest the bulbs when they are approximately the same size as a tennis ball. Pick the last of the seeds as you remove the empty heads. Fennel is a diverse herb that is used around the world. When to harvest fennel bulbs involves a little more, but before we talk about the how and the when, let’s make sure we’re talking about the right fennel. The fronds can be used in salads, but the vegetable is often grown for its bulb, which produces a crunchy texture with a taste similar to licorice. Florences's fresh fennel leaves are a favorite steamed, grilled or raw, like celery, on salads, with eggs, fish and sauces! Thank you. Fennel seeds should be harvested as soon as they turn from green to brown on the stalk. The plant may then be stunted, and the stems can become distorted or bend. Store the bag in a dry place for a couple of days to a week until all the moisture is gone from the seed heads. In Italy, where this variety has been cultivated for centuries, it is called finocchio. I slice them in salads and stir-fry, roast or braise them and enhance their flavor with mild Italian cheese. Fertilization while growing fennel is not recommended, as it will lose its aromatic taste if well fed. Cutworms will attack plants and then the stems of the young seedlings, or plants that have been recently transplanted, may become severed at the soil line. For optimal freshness, the seeds should be harvested just as the flowers are beginning to dry out and turn brown. DRYING FENNEL SEEDS Once the bulb begins to develop, blanch the bulb by hilling soil around it to protect it from the sun. Different plants are susceptible to different types of pests and diseases, and it is important to make yourself aware so you can keep a watchful eye and also take any preventative methods to keep your plants safe throughout their lifespan. Handle them gently so you don’t lose any seeds in... DRYING FENNEL SEEDS. There are several species available for this use, including Foeniculum vulgare (common fennel), the wild fennel that grows along the roadsides in many parts of the United States. You’ve just learned how to harvest fennel bulbs! How and when do I harvest my bulb fennel? Please enter a valid address. This will release seeds into the bags. To prevent this, be sure not to plant the fennel too close together to allow for good air circulation. Now that you know when to harvest fennel, let’s talk about how to harvest fennel bulbs. Fennel seeds pack huge flavor. Please still expect the processing days listed in the header during this crisis. There are multiple uses for this aromatic garden giant. The bulb should measure at least 5 cm (2 in.) Using shears, snip whole seed heads off of the plant into the paper bag. To aid in this, plant fennel in pots or in the back of the garden. Fennel seeds should be dried before eating. You can even chew on a seed to freshen breath. Keep the bottom of the bulb in the soil so its roots remain, and it will begin to produce more growth. Grass seeds and legume seeds are particularly prolific staples of diets all around the world, with corn, wheat, rice and beans serving as the caloric foundation for countless cultures throughout the course of human history. You can also dry your fennel seeds in the oven. Leave them there for a few days, then shake the heads. Cut the bulb above the soil, but leave the root in the ground. Otherwise, it is likely they will fall off the plant and be scattered by the wind. If you’re harvesting fennel bulbs, wait until they are about three inches in diameter. First, cut each seed head off of the fennel plant. You know they are ready to harvest when they turn from green to brown. (Hint: The right recipe often involves caramelization.). All rights reserved, Article from Edible Capital District at Required fields are marked *. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! The seeds and leaves can be used in a variety of recipes, including flavoring for Italian sausage, and the leaf stalks make a different and wonderful vegetable dish. Trim away any stems or flower heads from the top of the plant and store in the refrigerator. Scatter the fennel seeds on a cooking tray. Your email address is invalid. Leave any dirt or bits of dried flowers that remain. I plant my seeds a few at a time so bulbs don’t all form at once.

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