Earthing up fennel (etc)

lucyfretwell(ireland)September 29, 2013

I do this with some success so there is not really a problem.

But I wonder what is actually going on when the plant gets this treatment?

Does it stop the plant from bolting ? Or does it just blanch the bulbs? Does it promote extra leaf growth?
One thing I do think it does is that it can make the plants steadier in strong winds .

Also how high up should you heap the soil? Does it do a better job if you cover it right up to where the leaves (I mean the stems) meet the bulb?

Some of the bulbs that I have given this favoured treatment do seem to be particularly leafy.

And what about the ones that have grown tall and thin but have not actually bolted? Is there any point in earthing them up ?

Also how important is it to thin the plants out? I have noticed that the leaves seem to be very light and airy and so I suspect that they might not suffer from lack of light even when very close together .

Would it be alright to thin them out once it becomes apparent that they are not going to bulb up (leaving the ones that do seem to more likely to do so) ?

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I think what I had read with Fennel is that it encourages bulbing to earth it up. Not sure if that's actually true or not.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I grow lots of great fennel for market and have done so for many years now. I never considered hilling it. Of all the many farms i've worked at (or visited) can't think of anyone that has.
I do see that some people online recommend it but I can't see any reason to do so. It's not bitter to need blanching like celery, it stays nice and white on it's own unlike leeks. It always bulbs fine by itself if grown in the cool weather months and is fed and thinned properly. All I can see happening by piling dirt up is that it would make it harder to clean.

Maybe for the spring planting it would hold a little longer when it starts to get hot because the hilled soil would keep the bulb cooler?

Anyway, I would just avoid the step and put your energy to other things, like eating it!


    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 10:08PM
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I grow bulb fennel twice a year, spring and fall, and would never hill it up because that would get grit between the stalks. Above the ground, they usually stay nice and clean.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 7:27AM
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That is a surprise to me as I have been doing it for years religiously -I am not disputing.

Perhaps it would make more sense if you have strong winds that disturb the roots?

Actually I can see from this article (link below) that you can cut it off at ground level and it will reshoot.Has anyone tried that ? Would they keep going through the winter like that -maybe with a bit of extra protection?

Here is a link that might be useful: The Telegraph -Why fennel is the gardener's friend

This post was edited by lucyfretwell on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 8:32

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:21AM
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I cut one down when it was bolting and the root did reshoot. It wouldn't form a bulb from the shoots, but the fronds were useable. I just left it most of the season for the swallowtails to enjoy.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:35AM
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So no new little side shoots? (I am afraid I have no use for the fronds )

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:17AM
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The new fronds are side shoots, but they won't bulb up. They will usually bolt eventually if you have use for the seeds.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Once I cut the spring crop (and if i'm in no rush to plant something else there) the fennel does re-sprout.
It will make small fennel bulbs, usually 2 or 3. They don't get large but are perfectly edible. This works in my climate at least.
In the fall, sometimes they will re-sprout with enough time to make another small bulb, unless we get a hard freeze.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 12:07PM
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Yes I like those small bulbs -not for cooking obviously but to throw them in the salad.

Also if you let the main bulbs stay in the ground a little too long then you will get lots of these in amongst the main body (the same as in lettuces except that then it is an indication that the lettuce is starting to become bitter also any slugs have also have had longer to do their damage)

This post was edited by lucyfretwell on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 14:51

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 2:50PM
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It grows wild here. I love the licorice scent. To me it's a very welcome "weed".
I wonder if the wild type is edible and if it bulbs?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:48AM
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