Grand Fennel-y

Fennel Seed Head


Dear Reader:

September is here. It is the grand finale of summer, of the harvest. I’ve been picking tomatoes, cucumbers, red chili peppers, and the last of the lettuce and yellow summer squash. A couple of the garden boxes are looking a little thin now that the zucchini and squash plants have been pulled. My herb box, however, continues to delight. The basil is full and fragrant (time to make pesto before the frost hits!), the calendula finally blossomed, the sage and rosemary are holding their own . . . and then there is the fennel!

Rich in phytoestrogens,Fennel is often used for colic, wind, irritable bowel, kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs, suppressing appetite, breast enlargement, promoting menstruation, improving digestive system, milk flow and increasing urine flow. Fennel is also commonly used to treat amenhorrea, angina, asthma, anxiety, depression, heartburn, water retention, lower blood pressure, boost libido, respiratory congestion, coughs and has been indicated for high blood pressure and to boost sexual desire.–http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-fennel.html

Honestly, I had no idea what a powerhouse of a plant I had growing in garden box #1! Fennel tasted like licorice, I knew that much. I wanted to grow some new-to-me herbs in that box, and the fennel looked interesting at the greenhouse. So four fennel plants found their way into the herb box.

And they grew.

And grew.

And grew until they were huge white bulbs with offshoots springing from it looking somewhat like a white heart with ventricles and arteries and veins.

See . . .

Upside-down for comparison

When it became clear to me that I should cook the bulbs before they went to seed, I pulled up three of them, brought them inside, sliced them up, and roasted them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt until they caramelized.

The fennel petals were a bit tough…I really did leave the plants in the ground too long. Still, the roasted fennel lent a mellow, buttery-licorice taste when added to the top of a bed of greens for a late-summer salad. The remaining plant will be allowed to go to seed. I’ve been snipping off fronds here and there to use in vinaigrette, on top of roasted meat, added to soups, for cucumber pickles, whatever I can think of.

Going All To Seed

When the flower heads turn to seed and begin to dry, I will harvest them, put them into a marked envelope, and wait until next spring to try my hand at starting new plants indoors.

I’ll also be trying to find some herbal teas that include fennel to help boost my heart, lungs, and digestive system over the fall and winter. Mmmmm, a soothing cup of licorice-tasting tea while the watching the leaves turn color outside the window. I’m almost ready for summer to be over. Almost.

How about you? Are you a fennel fan? Or fennel-finicky? Cast your vote . . . Outside the Box.

15 responses to “Grand Fennel-y

  1. Isn’t it kind of sad, kind of a relief at the same time, to have Fall be so close at hand? Leaves are turning! Falling, already, onto the path I walk through the woods. I feel ready for it, but hate to see another summer gone so quickly.
    Fennel is new to me this year. I had it slow-roasted with carrots and onion, and enjoyed it very much.
    Thanks!

  2. What a clever headline.
    Did you notice if the bees liked the flower? After reading all the health benefits I’d like to add fennel to my garden next year. We roast veggies to freeze and serve in the winter, so this would fit right into our garden plan especially with the medicinal qualities.

    • I’ve had bees zipping around the garden, but I haven’t noticed any on the fennel particularly. Right now they are enjoying the autumn-joy sedum. Good idea about roasting and then freezing!

      • I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know what a sedum was until we visited Hal and Patti’s garden last week. Hal is the one who got me interested in log hives and his wife wrote the story that I posted as my very first blog.
        They live about 40 miles away so I don’t see them too often. They had Autumn Joy sedums that were ‘crawling’ with bees. I absolutely have got to get some for next year for my bee garden. Thanks for mentioning it.

    • Saw a bee and a small wasp on the fennel this weekend…

  3. My son’s pediatrician recommended I drink Fennel Tea to help calm him down! I haven’t tried it, but apparently it’s a miracle broth 🙂

  4. FAN! love it. before the fronds flower, you can make pesto with them. The flowers are a really nice garnish to a fennel soup.
    http://agrigirl.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/tastes-of-spring/

  5. I’ve never grown fennel……..but, I love it! Putting it on my list for next season!

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