Tuesday, August 29, 2006
A savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
Than smell of sweetest Fennel
Milton, Paradise Lost
The plant for Fructidor 12 is fennel, and I've been growing fennel in my garden for years, partly because it's a plant beloved by Venus. Also because I love the flavor of fennel bulbs and am always buying them at the store and sslicing them into my salads. I've never gotten a big bulb from the ones in my garden and prefer to grow them for seeds.
At this time of the year, the yellow flower heads are going to seed. I pluck off the seed heads, put them in paper bags and shake them to get the seeds loose, then store them in glass jars for use in cooking. I especially like adding them to lasagna.
The fennel stalks themselves were once used as weapons by the Benedanti, whose exploits are described by Carlo Ginzberg in Ecstasies, in which he traces back the imagery found in European witch trials to a shamanic cult prominent in northern Italy whose members believed they left their bodies (during sleep or dreams) and protected the crops from bad walkers (Maladanti). The Benedanti used fennel stalks, the Maldanti sorghum stalks. Because I like to use every part of my plants, I use my fennel stalks to make trellises and stakes for other plants.
For more on fennel see Gernot Katzer's web site:
or Mrs. Grieve at