Florence fennel 'Zefa Fino'
Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum
Zefa Fino is a variety of Florence fennel which is a member of the Foeniculum family. Its botanical name is Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum 'Zefa Fino'.
Zefa Fino is a superior strain of fennel developed in Switzerland that is ideal for cool climates and the best fennel for garden use. It will bulb reliably and doesn’t bolt from a spring sowing even when transplanted.
It is very popular for use in specialist cuisine as unlike most other Florence Fennels, Zefa Fino stays small, growing to around 7 to 12cm (3-5in) across and keeps a succulent texture, never tough or woody. It harvests easily because the root stem is relatively short, it is good for use as a mini-veg or for growing on to maturity.
Switzerland is believed to be where Zefa Fino originates from.
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How to grow Florence fennel 'Zefa Fino'
Water plants during dry periods, once or twice per week. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer once or twice during the season.
Any check in growth will induce bolting, and stop the production of bulbs. Keep them regularly, evenly watered—and cultivate with a light hand, for disturbing their roots can also induces.
The plants will eventually make a swollen oval structure a few inches in diameter just above the ground. Some gardeners pull soil up around the developing bulbous base to blanch it, but that’s just not necessary. The stems grow two to three feet tall.
Timing is very important when harvesting the bulb. Once the bulb has fully formed, the plant will want to send up a flower stalk—which will shrink the bulb immediately. So be sure to harvest the bulbs when they are no more than 3 inches across.
The whole plant is pulled up at harvest. Trim off the stems ½ to 1 inch from the bulb. (Larger stems can be chopped and cooked with the bulb, and the foliage can be used for garnishing.) It seems generally agreed that if you let just one plant to go to seed, you’ll have fennel next year for sure. Alternatively if being grown to harvest the stalks rather than the bulb, these can be cut just above soil level, leaving the stump in the ground. Further small feathery shoots will appear which are suitable for use in salads.Plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Zefa Fino is generally regarded as a hardy plant, so it can be safe to leave outdoors for the majority of winter (although if in doubt, using a row cover is often a good idea). Use USDA Hardiness Zone 4 - 9 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Zefa Fino needs a soil ph of 6.1 to 7.8 (weakly acidic soil - weakly alkaline soil).
Growing Zefa Fino from seed
Seed can be sown indoors and transplated, but the taproots of the plant don’t transplant well, and disturbance of the root can cause the plant to bolt. Therefore it is often better to sow directly.Aim to sow 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) deep and try to ensure a gap of at least 0.98 inches (2.5 cm). For optimal germination, soil temperature should be a minimum of 10°C / 50°F.
Transplanting Zefa Fino
When the seedlings are about 5 cm tall, thin them to about 20 – 30 cm by 60 to 100 cm as they are greedy feeders and will compete with other plants.Zefa Fino is hardy, so ensure you wait until all danger of frost has passed in your area before considering planting outside.
Harvesting Zefa Fino
Florence fennel 'Zefa Fino' information
How long does Zefa Fino take to grow?
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RHS Award of Garden Merit
Recommended by the UK’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany
Bulbing Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Finuccio, Florence Fennel, Finocchio