Good enough to eat
Florence fennel. This type of fennel is grown for its fleshy, aniseed-flavoured stem base which can be eaten raw, casseroled or braised, while the feathery foliage looks great in the ornamental border. It likes moisture-retentive soil and in a Mediterranean climate will grow quickly, producing a ‘bulb’ in 10-12 weeks In the UK, it is best to sow after late June and is likely to bolt if sown too early or in a cold summer. For autumn harvests, sow the seed directly into a prepared seedbed in June to July, watering thoroughly. Germination can be hit and miss, but once seedlings have emerged, thin to 30cm apart, keep well watered and well weeded. When the swollen base is plump and fleshy, cut just above soil level and trim off the larger leaves. Good varieties include ‘Cantino’ and ‘Selma’.