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Foeniculum vulgare, Florence Fennel - Zefa Fino


Zefa Fino is an open pollinated variety, producing flat, round bulbs of a good size. Resistant to bolting, for summer and autumn production. Sow March-May.

Fennel has a long history of herbal use and is a commonly used household remedy, being useful in the treatment of a variety of complaints, especially those of the digestive system.

Yellow and brown dyes are obtained from the flowers and leaves combined.

 Fennel is in general a poor companion plant in the garden. It inhibits the growth of nearby plants, especially beans, tomatoes and kohl rabi. It is itself inhibited by wormwood and coriander. However, the flowering plant attracts beneficial insects such as bees, parasitic wasps, tachinid flies and hoverflies to the garden. The presence of these creatures will help to maintain a natural balance of insects in the garden and help prevent infestations by aphis etc.

It is best not to grow fennel and dill (Anethum graveolens) close to each other since hybridisation can occur and the resulting seedlings will be of indeterminate flavour.

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils but prefers a sunny dry position. It grows well in sandy soils and is drought tolerant once established. Plants often self-sow freely in the garden. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn.

Best sown in early spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in situ in the autumn. In many gardens it self sows freely.

Edible uses

Leaves - raw or cooked. A delicious aniseed flavour, the young leaves are best since older ones soon become tough. They are often used as a garnish on raw or cooked dishes and make a very pleasant addition to salads. They help to improve digestion and so are particularly useful with oily foods. The leaves are difficult to store dried, though this does not really matter since they can often be harvested all year round, especially if the plants are in a warm, sheltered position.

Leaf stalks and flower heads - raw or cooked. A similar aniseed flavour to the leaves. The aromatic seeds are used as a flavouring in cakes, bread, stuffings etc. They have a similar flavour to the leaves and also improve the digestion. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads. An essential oil from the fully ripened and dried seed is used as a food flavouring in similar ways to the whole seed.

Root - cooked. Somewhat parsnip-like.

The leaves or the seeds can be used to make a pleasant-tasting herbal tea.


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