My fennel experiment has taught me some things. If I had found Barbara Pleasant’s page on How to Grow Bulb Fennel much earlier than I did, I might have got a crop. She gets two crops every summer!
I think my effort failed for three reasons:
1) I planted too late. It would be better to set out seedlings when I had planted mere seeds.
2) My spot lacked sun. It was next to a fence that prevented the plants from getting sun before late morning, and then the zucchini plants nearby grew up and provided more unwanted shade.
3) I didn’t give the plants extra nitrogen when they began “to bulb.” Barbara says that is an important step to help them grow good-sized bulbs.
Barbara says that it took her three seasons to learn how to grow a successful crop, so that is a comfort. I intend to try again. But even if I didn’t have hope for the future, this summer’s crop is so pretty, I’m enjoying it as an ornamental. I’ll keep watching for the seeds to develop, and maybe I’ll be able to gather enough for my next fennel experiment.