harvesting fennel - before the freeze?

Asked November 8, 2016, 4:13 PM EST

Hi - I planted fennel this year for the first time. I would like to wait to use it until Thanksgiving. But it is suppose to freeze this weekend in my area. Can I leave it in the ground or do I need to harvest it prior? thanks.

Dakota County Minnesota harvesting fennel horticulture

1 Response

I think the answer depends on what part of the plant you plan to use and how you plan to use it. The leaves are more fragile. I'd harvest them before frost. They will keep a few days in the refrigerator, but you could also dry them. You could also harvest some leaves before frost and leave some on the plant.

The bulb can survive temperatures down to upper 20's. The bulb lasts for about a week in plastic in the refrigerator, although it deteriorates somewhat. I've kept fennel bulbs refrigerated longer. If you do that, put some damp paper towels in the plastic bag with the fennel to provide moisture and check it frequently:
http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/Food_Gardening/Feature_Vegetables/Fabulous_Fennel/

If you plant to braise the bulb, you could also braise it early, then refrigerate until Thanksgiving, and reheat.