Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

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Essential Tools and Equipment for Growing and Enjoying Fennel

Harvesting fennel in the garden

Harvesting fennel in the garden

Caring for fennel requires the right tools for the job, and you’ll also find there are special tools for preparing fennel in the kitchen.

Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources section at the end of this collection for some recommended suppliers for acquiring the right tools and equipment. Many are also available online or at cooking or hardware stores.

Fennel-specific tools and equipment:

Mandoline

No, not the musical instrument! That’s “mandolin”—although “mandoline” and “mandolin” are related. This mandoline is a kitchen tool for slicing items in a quick and consistent manner. A mandoline has two parallel surfaces, one that’s adjustable with a blade—when food items reach the blade on the fixed surface, items are sliced and fall below. The name “mandoline” is derived from the wrist motion when cutting items, because it resembles the hand motions of a player of the musical instrument “mandolin.” It sure beats a knife if you want to ensure consistent thickness, or if you have arthritic hands. And the mandoline is the perfect tool for slicing fennel bulbs oh-so-thin for using in salads or slaws.

For the Cold-Weather Fennel Gardener

Greenhouse

You can grow fennel in the winter in a greenhouse if in-house temperatures there cooperate—mid 60s. (Commercial growers start their crops with greenhouse-grown plants—and so can you, with the right equipment.) And a greenhouse allows you to start lots of other of seedlings all at once. With a greenhouse, you’ll have plenty of semi-indoor space and a more controlled environment for getting a bigger and more diverse garden launched.

A greenhouse would also allow you to think about making extra income from your garden. You can sell excess garden seedlings from your home or from a table at the local farmer’s market, or even just gift them to gardening friends and family.

Greenhouse styles include prefabricated or handmade—or you can design one that includes both. A greenhouse is a big investment, but can provide you with more fennel-gardening options and allow you to expand your overall garden.

And a greenhouse can allow you to grow certain fennel varieties all year long.

General gardening tools and equipment:

Containers and Pots

If you want to start plants indoors before the outdoor growing season commences, you can try several environmentally friendly and free ways to begin with materials you probably already have:

  • Newspaper or brown-paper pots
  • Egg cartons
  • Toilet-paper rolls (yes, these work great!)
  • Random containers, kitchen pans, or baking sheets (you might need holes drilled into the bottom for drainage)—if you have aging or rusting kitchen pans that you’re looking to replace, they make for great “starter pots” for getting your garden launched inside
  • Starter trays and peat pots

Garden Gloves

Using a pair of garden gloves—and wearing long sleeves—when you’re tending to your plants is a good way to avoid skin irritation and to protect your fingers, hands, and arms. Get a comfortable pair of gloves that fit well, so you still have full dexterity in your garden.

Garden Trowel

A useful garden tool, the garden trowel is handy when filling your containers and when mixing compost and worm castings. Avoid cheap versions that can have flimsy handles that are prone to break. Even inferior metal trowels can bend in hard clay or rocky soil. Invest in a higher quality trowel, and you’ll have it for years!

Irrigation Equipment

Many plants thrive when watered slowly and deeply. While tedious and even sometimes difficult to do with a watering can, you might want to consider an irrigation method for keeping your plants slowly and deeply watered.

A standard sprinkler system is not the best solution—while easy to set up, the wide-ranging water coverage of a sprinkler can lead to wet plant leaves that promote diseases and can encourage weeds.

A drip-watering irrigation system that operates on a timer is one of the best irrigation solutions for watering plants. This type of system better controls how much water you use, minimizes water lost to evaporation, and more exactly directs water to where you want to soak your soil. While more expensive than a simple watering can, an investment in an irrigation system can pay off—specially to ensure proper watering when you’re at work or on vacation!

Pruners or Snippers

Wear your garden gloves while pruning, and be sure to get a set of pruners or snippers that are comfortable in your hand when cutting. Don’t skimp on this—you need something that cuts well and will endure through many seasons.

Rain Barrel

Some areas of the country experience drought conditions in the spring and summer, and some municipalities may impose watering bans; that means hand watering only. If you collect rainwater, you can put it to good use when it comes time to tend your plants. Some communities offer rain barrels at a special discount to encourage water conservation.

Spade

Every gardener—no matter what plants you’re tending—needs a spade, or even several of different sizes. Use your spade to move around compost, dig soil for your initial plant hole, and to keep your garden soil tidy.

Spray Pump or Bottle

To control the emergence or spread of plant diseases and pests, get a dedicated spray bottle for your potion to do the job. This is one thing you can go basic on—no need for anything fancy, as a simple plastic spray bottle is fine.

Watering Can

Watering cans allow you to better control exactly where the water is directed in your garden. Plant leaves and fruit don’t need water, the roots in the soil do. Get yourself a good-sized watering can, and have some fun finding a watering can with an interesting design that fits your personality. Also, you want one that has a comfortable grip.

Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow makes it easy for you to move soil and mulch from plant to plant; and it works as an excellent mixing bowl when you’re combining the perfect soil blend. If you feel like a wheelbarrow is just a little over the top for your gardening needs, a 5-gallon bucket may suffice. Just make sure you have a good trowel to mix with.

Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gardening.

Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your fennel gardening.

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