Fennel is one of the new things I am adding to my gardening list this year. I’m a little excited about this, as I usually am when trying a new plant. This is not going to be in the main garden, though, because I have read in a number of places that the fennel plant releases a chemical (I don’t remember what it is called) that negatively effects the growth of other plants, especially tomatoes, cabbages, and beans.
The whole fennel plant is used for a variety of culinary and medicinal applications. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten, either chopped and added to another dish or by itself, much like celery, though with a very different flavor. Fennel seeds are added to many dishes, such as fish, breads, and salad. The leaves can be added as garnish or for added flavor to many dishes and gives a very unique flavor when added to salads. Though, if you don’t like the taste of black licorice, this may not be the herb for you.
Fennel is a great digestive aid and appetite suppressant. Drinking fennel seed tea before a meal helps reduce appetite and improves the efficiency of digestion by allowing more of the nutrients to be converted into energy rather than fat. It also reduces the occurrence of bloating, gas, and abdominal cramping. Consuming fennel, whether in food or by making fennel seed tea, is said to have a balancing effect on the female reproductive system, relieving symptoms of menopause and menstrual difficulties such as cramping and irregularity. Another benefit of fennel is helping to break up congestion, making coughs more productive. Fennel may also help with the dry coughs of bronchitis.
Most of the knowledge I have about fennel is from researching it through the internet, books, and word of mouth over the years. This leaves me feeling a bit unsure when explaining its benefits, as I am a hands on person, though the information provided here has been checked and cross referenced for accuracy. This only adds to the excitement of growing it. For me, there really is no substitute for growing a plant to aid in developing and solidifying a more thorough knowledge of the whole plant.
Next up: Marigolds (yes, marigolds)