Fennel, Mantovano (Organic)
Foeniculum vulgare. 75 days.
A superior bulbing/Florence fennel that placed very high out of 14 fennel varieties in the 2015 Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) taste tests. Bulbs mature in about 75 days from spring sowing but can also be summer planted for fall harvest. Bulbs hold in the field for weeks – they seem to just get fatter the longer they are in the ground. Mantovano is great when young and tender, but we really like it at its full-grown size when we cook it in just about everything: It may be blasphemous to some but fennel can be a fun substitute for onions in many dishes. When sliced thinly, the texture is similar and the flavor can be a nice change for those of us who don’t love onions, like Sarah.
Sow indoors in flats with good potting soil March through early July. Transplant into the garden once plants have 3 true leaves. May also be direct sown. We recommend 12″ spacing.
Seed saving from bulb type fennel can be challenging, as plants need a very long season and are not necessarily winter hardy in our region. If possible, save seed from at least 30 plants to avoid inbreeding. For seed purity, isolate by ¼ mile from other varieties, including wild fennel.