Funky fennel

I’m a slow learner. I grew fennel in my garden and waited for the bulbs to form, and waited, and waited. The plants grew and grew and grew, nearly as tall as me! (I’m only 5 feet tall) They never did form those bulbs I wanted to cook with.

My fennel regrowing after a very savage prune.

I now realise that there are two types of fennel.

“One is treated as an herb (herb fennel – Foeniculum vulgare) and one that is treated like a bulb type vegetable (Florence fennel or Finocchio – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).” (University of Illinois)

My fennel

I think I had the herb type. Still have; it has survived. This is the one that’s used for the seeds and the feathery leafy bits. I’m beginning to wonder if it really is fennel. Maybe it’s dill! The two herbs are very similar and are often confused. I’m pretty sure it’s fennel though.

I really like the taste of the bulbs purchased from the supermarket, particularly when they are roasted. I can’t wait to taste my home grown ones. Apparently you can eat all the parts of fennel. Today I purchased some bulb type fennel plants. I’m a little afraid to plant them outside just yet because our frosts can be nasty. They can have a little time in the glass house.

The bulb type of fennel

Herbalists use fennel for indigestion and with honey for coughs. There are lots of claims about the benefits of using fennel for improving medical conditions. It is also said that it will keep ghosts from entering a house if placed in keyholes, and that if you carry it, other people will trust your words and believe in you.

A mix of fennel and parsley

Monday through my eyes

Looking around today I see that some vegetables and herbs are flowering in my garden.


“Rocket or arugula (Eruca vesicaria) is an edible annual plant in the family Brassicaceae used as a leaf vegetable for its fresh, tart, bitter, and peppery flavor.”


I planted a small punnet of rocket seedlings ( in a garden bed, hoping that one or two might grow. I wish I’d taken a photo of when they were prolific. AND THEN THEY SELF SEEDED, everywhere. I attacked them savagely and cut them back. Oh, the smell, I loved it. They regrew. Enough is enough. They threatened to become a weed. So I sadly, tried to remove them. But, then as an afterthought, I transplanted a few to a more remote spot. Now I have hundreds of little rocket babies, waiting to emerge again.

Loving their flowers.


Gai lan

Gai lan or kai-lan (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra) is the Cantonese name for Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale.It is a leaf vegetable with thick, flat, glossy blue-green leaves with thick stems, and florets similar to (but much smaller than) broccoli


The Gai lan seedlings were planted a few months ago. I’ve never grown them before. I’d eaten them in Chinese dishes, like stir fried vegetables. They grew happily, but then bolted to flowers when no one was looking. While I was looking up the correct spelling, I learned that the flowers are edible. So maybe there will be stir fry soon.

Gai lan

Circles in nature and life

Did you know dandelions are symbols of emotional healing?

Here we go again. My mind is reeling as I try to gather my thoughts and prepare emotionally for the next six weeks.

My household went in to lockdown way back in March. Victorians seemed to do the right things and numbers of Covid cases decreased. But a vicious second wave sees us back in an even stricter lockdown again, as of today. It’s become part of life. I note with interest as I write, that the spell checker doesn’t recognise lockdown as a single word. I thought the time was passing quickly, so quick the spell checker hasn’t caught up.

I really shouldn’t complain. I am much better placed than many to withstand the situation. I’m far away from the city and relatively secluded. I feel for the grandkids who live with us. Homeschooling, not seeing friends and being isolated on the farm is another huge adjustment. And there’s a level of anxiety, from the situation. Still they’re resilient, even looking forward to some aspects of learning at home again. Right now it’s me who is trying to prepare for the onslaught.

This dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, caught my eye today. It must be tough to survive among the bricks. It can endure whatever is thrown at it. Some call it a weed. Others, throughout history have valued it as a herb with many special properties. You can eat it or make tea with it. It’s got lots of positive nutrients. Many, many health claims are made about a myraid of medical conditions it can help with. It is even claimed to make you look better, through skin improvement.

I love its beauty. A beautiful, circular, little ball of fluff, and it reminds me of good times with my children and grandchildren puffing the fluff away and making wishes for the future. They are actually spreading the goodness. The dandelion seed has downy fluff which serves as tiny parachutes to carry it on the breeze. Some claim it can travel a hundred miles on the wind, even over the oceans.

It can survive very tough conditions.

Another round ball of fluff is the seed of artichoke plants. Each little fluffy ball can have over 1500 seeds. They travel shorter distance and some people call the fluffy seeds, ‘fairies’ as the drift on the wind.