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.
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)
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.
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.