Fennel is a plant that does not like excessive heat and has a fair tolerance to cold. For this reason it is typically transplanted into the field at the end of summer and grown during the autumn, along with other winter vegetables such as leeks, radicchio and cabbage.
Choose the right period in which planting fennel is very important, to ensure the right climatic condition for the plant.
Let's find out together how and when to transplant fennel seedlings.
Direct sowing or transplanting
Fennel plants come from seeds: we can decide to sow directly in the field, or to put the seeds in trays to be kept in the shelter and then transplanted when the plant is formed (as explained in the guide to sowing in seedbeds). The third option, for those who are inexperienced or have little time, is obviously to buy seedlings in a nursery, ready for transplanting.
Given the period in which fennel is sown, it is often worth doing it in the seedbed., in this way young seedlings are avoided any late frosts (in case of spring sowing) or excessive heat (if sowing at the end of summer is chosen).
Below we will talk about the transplants of the seedlings, which therefore presuppose sowing in the seedbed or purchase in the nursery. As for the fennel sowing operation (both in trays and in the field directly), I refer to the dedicated study.
When to transplant fennel in the field
To decide when to grow fennel, it is necessary to know the climatic needs of the plant. The fennel plant, as we said, does not like heat and drought, so it is not very suitable for being in the garden in the middle of summer. Its optimum temperature is around 20 ° C, but withstands temperatures as low as 6 ° C.
His crop cycle, that is, the period that the plant takes to reach harvest is 4-5 months from sowing, therefore 3-4 months from transplant, if we choose to put the formed seedling.
In light of this information we can decide to plant the fennel in early spring (spring cultivation) or in late summer (autumn cultivation), in order to avoid the hottest months and also excessive frost. The exact sowing period depends on the climate of the area in which it is grown and the variety of fennel chosen (more or less early).
Growing fennel in spring means plant them between March and April, so that they are ready between May and June.
In the gardens located in the hottest areas, it can be brought forward to February.
The autumn cultivation of fennel is the most widespread, since it allows you to take advantage of the garden in a period when there are not many vegetables available. On the contrary, in spring there is a wider range of vegetables to grow and therefore there is less space for fennel.
It is convenient planting starting from the second half of August or September, in mild climate areas or under tunnels also October. We can expect a harvest between mid-October and December, in the south until January.
Fennel transplant and moon phase
To be honest I'm pretty skeptical of the lunar influence in agriculture: there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates its actual validity. However, the peasant tradition recommends choosing the right moon phase for sowing various vegetables.
In the case of fennel it would be from sow on a waning moon, which seems to be favorable to the development of the heart, which is the part of our interest. Opinions on the influence of the moon phase also in transplantation are conflicting, there are those who say that fennel should always be transplanted with a waning moon.
Personally I recommend carrying out transplants when you have time to do it and especially when the climatic and weather conditions are suitable for work, without going crazy looking at the lunar calendars, you can still consult today's moon and phases here.
The choice of seedlings
When we go to a nursery or garden center to buy fennel seedlings to transplant, it is useful to know how to choose the best ones.
Here are three important criteria:
- Green leaves. The fennel plants have the characteristic "tuft" of the umbelliferous plants, we do not buy seedlings with yellowed leaves and we check that the tuft is well erect.
- Low height. If the plant has a tuft that is too high it has probably spent too much time in the jar and this may have brought suffering, better to avoid. The best seedling is therefore not the tallest, but rather the most balanced.
- White roots. If we can observe the roots it is good to check that they are white and not too tangled. Radical yellowing and too dense apparatus are another sign of a plant that has remained beyond the optimal time inside the jar.
Prepare the soil for the fennel
The success of fennel cultivation largely depends on the soil, which we must prepare well before planting.
First of all the soil must not be too compact, so as not to hinder the swelling of the heart at the base of the plant (or the vegetables we want to harvest).
The soil must also be draining, that is not to have stagnant water, which would lead to rot and pathologies.
For these two reasons we must proceed with a good dig and then hoe the surface refining and leveling it, possibly intervening by creating drains or raised cultivation beds where there is a tendency to stagnation.
With respect to nutritional elements, fennel is not very demanding, therefore it does not require particular fertilizations where the soil already has residual fertility. A good one is useful presence of organic matter in the soil, which makes it soft and able to retain the right amount of moisture. We can then incorporate a moderate dose of compost or mature manure.
An ideal soil improver to be used in case of transplantation is theearthworm humus.
Another very important precaution in growing fennel is put the seedlings at the right distance: if the fennels are too close they will compete for space and resources.
I recommend to trace rows 50-60 cm apart, along the line we will plant the seedlings 30 cm away from each other.
It is very useful to make a straight and regular row, which will allow us in the future to tamp and weed the soil quickly.
How to transplant fennel
Here we are at the real moment of the transplant, in which the plant is taken and placed in the soil of our garden. Do not worry: it is a very simple job, even those who have never tried will find no difficulty.
Let's dig a little hole able to accommodate the earthen bread and we gently take the seedling, removing it from the tray and transferring it to the hole. Be careful only to handle the plant with care, avoiding pulling it by the tuft.
We cover well with the earth and compact by pressing with our hands, so that the tuft of the fennel is very vertical and stable and there are no empty spaces in the ground. There correct depth that our fennel must have is established by looking at the collar, which must be only slightly buried.
A suggestion: to make the change of environment less painful, before transplanting, it is better to put the fennel seedlings outdoors for a day.
Post transplant care
After planting you need to take care of the young seedlings, in particular watering regularly. A first abundant wetting must be done at the time of transplantation and then afterwards you must not forget to wet every day for the first weeks. Later our fennel will root better, but it is useful to take care that the soil never dries up. Arranging drip irrigation is an excellent choice.
If the tuft of the seedling is very exuberant we can choose to top it, you only need to tick a couple of centimeters.
The soil around the young seedlings must be kept under control, avoiding that theand weeds compete with our culture, we can decide to mulch wanting. Finally, pay attention to phytophagous insects and snails, which attacking young plants do more damage.