Friday, April 2, 2010

How Low can I go (cutting bulbs down)? Continuing the grocery store bulb growing tradition

I like not having to worry about those little things when cooking, like herbs or edible garnishes.  I like even more to not have to run out to the grocery store for those items that I don't use that often, like green onions.  BUT, I like it MOST when I don't have to re-purchase it and it keeps ALL year in the garden.

As I don't typically plan my meals, those little extra things that make a big impact to a meal like green onions, cilantro or rosemary come in handy when it's the garden and keeps well. 

So after my success with re-growing green onions from the store and keeping the growing bulbs in my refrigerator then house and finally planted them out into the garden after a couple months, I decided to try something more exotic like fennel.

I had a recipe for bouillabaisse, the classic French soup, except mine was more of a dumbed down vegetarian version, and I didn't use fish (oh well).

The only thing is that I needed to use the entire bulb it says, and as my bulb came pre-cut (without roots) from the store, most people would cut a certain amount of the more brownish oxidized cut part off anyways.

So I cut a little less than a half inch from the bottom of the fennel (preserving for food use what I thought would be enough for the soup) and wondered just how much can a person cut off a plant for it to regenerate.

A few days later after sitting in a saucer of water:

I suppose that answers it for fennel!

I'll admit, I got the fennel too not just for food purpose and to experiment with, but if my experiment in re-growing it worked, I wanted to grow fennel partly for food but also to feed deter the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars this year as I hear fennel is an excellent food source for them and the flowering heads of fennel attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies and helpful wasps.

Last year the caterpillars totally decimated my dill, parsley and turnip leaf crops (though the latter could have been turnip moths...) and so instead of grumbling like the mad woman I was last year, I'll working on trying to co-exist with the beasts.  The adults are pretty and pollinators of course, but in their crawly form... I am ashamed to say, but I was chucking them over the fence in a passive-aggressive "I'm not killing you (just marooning you a little), but if you can make it over to my garden again for food, kudos to you" sense in attempt to save the vegetables/herbs.

Since my experiment on one fennel bulb was successful, I'll be getting a few more for use.  I just need to find a bunch more recipes that involve fennel!