Fennel is a vegetable whose leaves and roots are used as a condiment and in a wide variety of dishes. It tastes like dill and anise, so it is added to soups, salads, meat and fish dishes, as well as some wines. Fennel also has healing properties, which is another reason many people want to grow it in their garden.
Fennel is a perennial herb
Fennel is a perennial herb belonging to the umbrella family. Outwardly, it resembles dill, but the height of its stems with a bloom of bluish color can reach 2 meters. The plant can have several powerful main roots up to 1-1.5 cm thick, which are taproots. Its inflorescences also resemble dill, they are collected in umbrellas and consist of small yellow flowers. Fennel begins to bloom only in the second year after planting.
Distinguish between an ordinary and a cabbage or garden variety of this plant. In garden fennel, a spherical thickening forms at the base of the stem during the growth process - a head of cabbage, which is used in cooking, like other root crops, for preparing independent dishes or as part of complex side dishes.
Fennel fruits ripen in early autumn, they are oblong seeds, sweetish in taste. Their length is about 10 mm, width is about 3 mm, they can maintain their germination for 2-3 years. The main breeding method for fennel is seed.
Sometimes the division of the bush is used to propagate fennel, but more often it is simply sown. It is well accepted on moist sandy loam or loamy soils, likes the sun or light shade. Planting of this perennial can be done twice a year - in spring or early autumn. You can sow the seeds directly into the soil, and then thin them out when the first pairs of true leaves are formed on the stems, but you can also use the seedling method. This method is especially recommended if you are planting vegetable fennel, which may not grow if the seeds are sown directly outside. Fennel is planted on seedlings in late winter - early spring, before planting in the ground, the plants dive. The seedling planting scheme is the same as for most plants - a 50x50 cm grid.
Before planting seeds, the soil must be cleared of weeds, dug up and fertilized with potash and organic fertilizers. In this capacity, you can use manure or ash. In the first case, 1 kg is applied per square meter of soil, in the second - 0.5 kg.
Caring for fennel during the period of its growth and ripening is simple - it must be fed periodically, and the soil must be loosened and weeds weeded. In the case when you grow a cabbage variety, the stems need to be huddled so that a thickening forms at their base. The crop can be harvested in 1, 5 months.
Fennel is a real water bread, in order to slightly reduce its appetites, it is necessary to use mulching, thanks to which it will be possible to reduce the number of weeds in the beds. This plant gets along well with others, but if it lacks moisture, it can take root into the neighboring territory. Agronomists advise placing beds with fennel near the beds with cucumbers and cabbage, it is believed that its specific aroma is able to scare away their pests.
The beneficial properties of fennel
Fennel fruits and leaves are used in a wide variety of fields. It is used in cooking, winemaking and bakery, aromatherapy, medicine and perfumery. Fennel added to the dish in the form of a spice gives a special delicate taste and aroma to meat or fish, canned vegetables. Vegetable fennel heads can be used to make a wide variety of dishes. Its seeds are added to bread dough as well as cumin and coriander.When fennel seeds are added to wine, it takes on a light aniseed aroma.
To use fennel as a spice should be dosed - some people have an individual intolerance to this plant with a pronounced aroma and taste.
For medicinal purposes, teas, decoctions and tinctures from the seeds and dried leaves of this plant are used. These drugs are used to treat skin diseases, nervous disorders, and to prevent colds. Young children are given so-called "dill water", which is actually an infusion of fennel leaves. This medicine relieves colic and bloating. Together with the fruits of anise and dill, fennel seeds are used to prepare preparations that stimulate lactation. Fennel tea has a diuretic effect, it is used for weight loss and edema.
Pregnancy is a contraindication to using fennel.
Aromatherapy uses fennel essential oil and its dried stems in the form of brooms for baths and saunas. Inhalation of the vapors with the essential oils of this plant helps to relieve nervous tension and relaxation, has a pronounced healing effect in case of sore throat and respiratory tract.
Fennel herb and stems are also used for insect control. On their basis, veterinary preparations for fleas in pets are produced. They are rubbed into wool and skin. Even if you do not have such a preparation, you can simply spread the plucked stems and leaves of fennel near the place where the dog or cat usually sleeps, this will be enough for the insects to stop tormenting the animal.