Grow fennel on the balcony or in the vegetable garden
Vegetable particularly appreciated in any month of the year, fennel can be grown both in the garden and at home. It is advisable to cultivate fennel in winter, while spring cultivation (which will allow harvesting the grumoli in summer) is preferable only in the case of having a greenhouse, which allows to maintain a constant temperature.
Classically, however, for autumn and winter consumption, production can begin in August or September.
It starts, of course, from sowing, for which a seedbed can be used. Being rather large seeds, especially when compared to other vegetables, it is advisable to trace the furrows in the soil at a certain depth. Several rows must be left between the rows so that the first development can take place in sufficient space.
Which terrain to choose
As for the soil, it is preferable to opt for a draining substrate, without waste material, even better if enriched with fertilizer. Equally important for a correct development is irrigation, which must not be too abundant but still requires perseverance: better to rely on the rain method, defined by sprinkling, which guarantees the best efficacy. The transplant can be carried out one and a half months after sowing, in full field, as long as the seedlings have reached a height of at least ten centimeters. It is necessary to pay attention, however, to the preparation of the soil, in the sense that the fennel suffers a lot from water stagnation: to avoid this occurrence, therefore, it is possible to use a draining soil, enriched with fertilizer, loose, that is to say friable; moreover, better clusters are obtained through preventive fertilization.
An equally useful trick can be to place the seedling in depth, but, to check its humidity, in a slightly raised flower bed. Cultivating fennels also means treating their bleaching: the white color that distinguishes them can be increased and facilitated by tamping, which must be carried out fifteen days before harvesting, or alternatively during regular development. This is an operation that involves covering the plant, which has a tendency to emerge from the ground naturally. The heart must be covered up to the apex, so that it is protected from the rays of the sun. Finally, as far as harvesting is concerned, this is an operation that must be carried out three or four months after sowing, at a time when the very compact fragrances have obtained an adequate size.
If the cultivation has started in the spring, good products can be obtained already in September. The harvest, instead, will begin in early winter if the sowing took place in September. From a practical point of view you can proceed with the help of a ploughshare or a spade, taking care not to bump and damage the fennel, or simply by hand, cutting off part of the leaves and the roots. Fennel, as mentioned, can also be cultivated in pots, on the balcony, among the flowers, also because it is also particularly decorative. You can use bowls about thirty centimeters deep and rather wide, in which they are arranged in groups; alternatively, long trays can be used to be planted in a row.
Sowing takes place directly in the pots, keeping a distance of at least twenty-five centimeters between one seed and another; when the plants reach seven or eight centimeters in height, they can be thinned. Those who do not have seedbeds and lots of space should buy seedlings ready to be transplanted. About the climate, it is good to know that fennel suffers in particular from excessive cold, and therefore it is necessary to protect it from frosts. The soil must be rich in organic substances and exposed directly to the sun.
From the point of view of the rotations, the fennel must not be alternated with beans, turnips, cabbage and tomatoes, on which it has a negative influence, while it can be associated with positive results to chicory, cucumber, leeks, lettuce and peas. Tamping is useful for grow fennel more sweet and tender. When the globosa portion of the vegetable has reached the size of a small apple, the combination of the earth to cover it will allow to obtain better results in terms of quality. The taste will improve, as the fennel will be protected from the cold.
Growing fennel: Beware of diseases and pests
Care must be taken, of course, to avoid cryptogamic diseases, diseases and parasitic attacks. The real enemy to be fought, in particular, is sclerotin, which is nothing but a mold that, if not removed in time, risks compromising the entire harvest. It is revealed through rots that spread from the outside to the inside, and that can be counteracted by placing the plant in a sunny and airy area, far from excessive humidity. If the attack is already damaging fennel, the best treatment involves using copper. Finally, it is necessary to underline, as far as watering is concerned, that the quantity of water to be administered depends on the climatic conditions and on the season: better, in any case, a lack of water rather than an excess.