Warming up for winter with fennel

18 Oct

Autumn is a very busy time in the garden. It’s still bright with colour from turning leaves and late flowering herbaceous plants, but it has to be tidied up and “put to bed” for winter.

Being organic, we aren’t as tidy as some people would expect. Although we cut back many larger plants, we leave some low-growing herbaceous ones as a winter habitat for our beneficial insects.

Usually at this time of year the seeds of herbaceous annuals, including love-in-a-mist, honesty, cornflower and pot marigold, are nice and dry, allowing us to collect them for sowing in the spring. Sadly, 2012 has been so wet that most of them are still green or have rotted away.

We have managed to gather some fennel seeds though. These are not just for planting either. Crushed, they make a tasty addition to spreads such as cream cheese, or they can be added whole to soups or curries – two types of winter warmer that were popular with the Georgians. Delicious!

Autumn colour: The cardoon is a cousin of the artichoke

Colourful: The cardoon, a cousin of the artichoke

Bounty: Fennel seeds ready for collecting

Bounty: Fennel seeds ready for collecting

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