Zefa Fino is a superior strain of fennel developed in Switzerland that is ideal for cool climates and the best fennel for garden use. It will bulb reliably and doesn't bolt from a spring sowing even when transplanted.
It is very popular for use in specialist cuisine as unlike most other Florence Fennels Zefa Fino stays small, growing to around 7 to 12cm (3 to 5in) across and keeps a succulent texture, never tough or woody. It harvests easily because the root stem is relatively short, it is good for use as a mini-veg or for growing on to maturity. Harvest in 80 days.
Florence Fennel, also called Finuccio or bulbing fennel is easy to grow and very hardy, lasting well after the first frost. With beautiful bright green, fern-like leaves and aromatic yellow flowers and growing 60cm tall and 24cm wide (24 by 12in), the plant is an ideal candidate for smaller gardens and can even be grown in large containers.
This popular European vegetable is native to the Mediterranean region, the bulbous base and stalk can be eaten raw like celery, cooked, or boiled.
The foliage and seeds have an anise-like flavour and can be used in sauces, soups, and condiments. It is a cousin of the herb fennel, which is prized for its feathery leaves.
• Awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM).
• Recommended by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.
Sowing: Sow Direct in Feb to April and / or June to July
The best time to plant Florence fennel is in early spring and again in mid summer so that the plants can mature in cooler autumn weather.
Seed can be sown indoors and transplanted, but as the taproots of the plant don't transplant well, any disturbance of the root will tend to cause the plant to bolt, it is often better to sow directly. Fennel germinates at temperatures of 10 to 30°C (50 to 86°F)
If grown in containers a minimum 5 gallon container is needed to provide a highly fertile and consistently moist soil.
Sow in spring as soon as the ground can be worked and / or again in early summer.
Sow seeds about 5cm (2in) apart, 6mm (¼in) deep, in rows 45cm (18in) apart and cover with 1/4in of soil. When the plants are about 5cm (2in) tall, thin them to about 20-30cm (8-12in) by 60-100cm (24-36in), as they tend to be quite greedy feeders and will compete with any other plant that is forced to share space with it.
Water plants during dry periods, once or twice per week. Add a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a season. Deadhead: Allow one plant to go to seed and you won't have to plant fennel in your garden for a few years again.
Harvesting: 90 days
Harvest leaves as at any time. Harvest bulbs when they reach tennis ball size or bigger (July to Sept). Pull every other one out as needed to allow those remaining to grow even bigger. Leave the roots in the ground as Bulb fennel regrows after cutting.
Do not pull these plants up in advance of the first frost. They are very hardy and should continue to thrive and grow, even after a number of hard frosts.
Harvest flower heads after seeds have formed and the flower head has died. Extract seeds and dry them in a cool, dry location.
Having an Anise like taste, the bulbs and stalks are eaten raw like celery. They are also cooked in a variety of Italian and other ethnic foods.
The leaves are used in sauces, soups, and condiments. The oil is used to flavour liqueurs, candy, fish and medicine. Oil of Fennel is used in soaps too
Store in a plastic bag, in the crisper section of the refrigerator for no more than three to four days. Fennel loses its flavour quickly so it’s best to use it as soon as possible.
The crucial thing to know about fennel is that you do not want it growing close to any other plant, and most especially nowhere near other members of the Umbellifrae family, which is a large one. It inhibits the growth of most plants, and readily cross-pollinates with its kin to give useless results on both plants.
Grow it by itself off in a corner of the garden, or in pots placed well away from the herb bed (and your carrots!) If you see large, black & green caterpillars on your fennel, don't be alarmed. Fennel is also a host plant for swallow butterfly caterpillars.
"Finocchio" is the proper Italian and more or less universal European name for this vegetable. But be aware that, in Italian, the word is also slang a rather vulgar, pejorative, and definitely not politically correct epithet!
- Additional Information
Packet Size 750mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Common Name Florence Fennel or Bulbing Fennel Family Apiaceae Genus Foeniculum Species vulgare var. azoricum Cultivar Zefa Fino Synonym Finocchio Hardiness Hardy Biennial Height Up to 180cm (6ft) Spacing 60cm (24in) Position Full sun Soil Well-drained/light, Dry, Sandy Time to Harvest 80 days from sowing Notes Often seen as a perennial grown as an annual