Feel the love for fennel
Kitchen Garden|August 2021
Fennel is not commonly seen on veg plots but Annabelle Padwick sings its praises and offers some tips on growing it
Annabelle Padwick

Growing up I was always told to eat my carrots as they helped me see in the dark. But upon doing my own research now, that well-used statement which I definitely believed as a child is apparently a myth that stems from a Second World War propaganda campaign – a statement from the government designed to respond to a wartime oversupply of carrots and keep the news of improved RAF radar technology a secret. Did you know that?

The real deal of restoring and strengthening eyesight is fennel! It has been praised by Roman herbalists at least anyway. In the book titled The Art of Simpling, written in 1656, it is also noted that the seeds of this tall perennial herb “contain a high concentration of volatile oil which our forefathers used to help clear the mistiness of the eye”.

Additionally, fennel has a long and continuing history of being used to soothe upset stomachs or cramps and quieten those hunger grumbles, which I’m certainly familiar with if I don’t eat often enough. As herbal tea or incorporated into delicious dishes, fennel can be great for our mind and body. One cup of fennel apparently contains 20% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin C, as well as plenty of fibre and iron. It just depends if you love or loathe its sweet anise flavor.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FENNELS?

COMMON FENNEL: This is the leafy fennel that is often grown as a herb. Its Latin name is Foeniculum vulgare and it produces tall (1.5m) feathery foliage and then umbels of yellow flowers. It’s a beauty to look at and watch grow! And it’s a great herb that connects us with four of our senses: touch, taste, smell, and sight.

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