Fennel - Sweet Florence
Sweet Florence is the old traditional variety which is best used for later summer sowings when bolting is not normally a problem. It has a fine flavour and the leaves can be used as a herb in fish dishes. This is an attractive vegetable with tall stems and feathery green foliage. Unlike the fennel in the herb section which is grown specifically for its leaves, the Florence Fennel is grown for the bulbous swollen plant base which can be used chopped raw in salads, braised as a vegetable or added to delicious winter casseroles. It has a delicious mild aniseed flavour and a texture which is much like that of celery.
Sow the seeds from April to May direct into vegetable plot , sow seeds thinly along rows 2cm deep and 30-45cm between the rows. Fennel does not like root disturbance so should not be transplanted. Thin seedlings as soon as large enough to handle to 25-30cm apart. Water well until plants are established. As the swollen stems start to develop, gradually build earth up around them to preserve the whiteness and flavour. Bulbs are ready from September and October, and the leaves can be used from July.