Microgreens are an easy way to incorporate extra greens into your diet. They also provide instant gratification since you can plant them indoors and harvest them in at least two weeks! If you want to have easy access to some flavor, fennel microgreens are the way to go.
Fennel has a zingy, peppery flavor that’s close to licorice or anise. Fennel microgreens are milder in flavor and a bit sweeter than fully grown fennel. It’s delicious when added to salad and sandwiches, acts as a tasty and fresh option for herbs to use in seafood dishes, or you can mix it into dips and soups. Micro fennel is full of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, so you can sneak in some extra nutrients when you add them to dishes.
Growing microgreens is quick and easy. You can grow them in a window sill or under a grow light, and you’ll soon have delicious greens to add to your food. Let’s take a look at how you can start growing micro fennel yourself.
Fennel Microgreens Quick Info
|Flavor:||Green, peppery, and sweet; mild anise or licorice flavor|
|Germination:||7-14 days (fewer if soaked)|
|Ideal Harvest:||10-14 days after germination|
Growing Fennel Microgreens
It’s easy to grow microgreens if you’re careful about each step. Fennel microgreens can be grown hydroponically, but we’re going to get into how to grow them in a growing medium.
You’ll only need a few things to get started growing fennel microgreens.
- Seeds: We highly recommend getting your fennel seeds from True Leaf Market. Our favorites are their Florence fennel seeds. Keep in mind that there are many different fennel seeds out there to choose from, but when buying microgreen seeds, you’ll need a lot more than most companies provide in a single packet, so look for them in bulk!
- Growing medium: You’ll need a well-draining growing medium to prevent your micro fennel from getting overwatered. We recommend using coconut coir or Espoma’s seed starting mix.
- Light: We recommend a T5 grow light, but you can use what you have on hand as long as it provides direct light.
- Shallow trays: You’ll need two or three trays to grow micro fennel seeds.
- Heating mats: These aren’t necessary, but if you don’t have a consistently warm place to grow your fennel microgreens, heating mats will come in handy!
- Spray bottle: A spray bottle is the easiest way to make sure your seeds are evenly watered the first few days you’re growing them. It will readily moisten without overwetting the soil you’re using to grow microgreens.
- Scissors: You’ll need sharp scissors or shears to harvest your micro fennel.
Micro fennel won’t be too picky about the growing medium you choose, so you can pick what you like as long as it’s well-draining. This is crucial because too much water will cause mold and give your tender seedlings wet feet, which will cause them to die pretty quickly. Choosing a seed starting mix will guarantee that your microgreens will have enough nutrients so they can grow to their full potential.
You’ll need at least two shallow trays, but you may want a third one to provide complete darkness while you wait for the seeds to sprout. A dish towel will work just fine if you don’t have a third tray. One tray should have drainage holes, but the other two should be solid. To make bottom watering easier, one of the solid trays should be slightly bigger than the one with holes. The size difference will make it much easier for you to add more water since you won’t have to lift the top tray out every time.
Your fennel microgreens will need a lot of direct light, so choosing the proper grow light is essential. We recommend T5 grow lights because they don’t heat up the room and they’ll last a long time.
Fennel seeds can be slow to germinate if you don’t fully hydrate them before planting. You can expect these microgreen seeds to take up to two weeks to appear. If you soak them for up to twenty-four hours, you’ll speed up the process significantly and it’ll only take a few days!
A pre-soak for your microgreen seeds is completely optional. If you’re going to use succession planting to create a steady supply of fennel microgreens, then you may prefer to have a longer germination period so you don’t have too much to use at once.
Fennel microgreens require a little extra room than other microgreens do, so you’ll only need 1-2 tablespoons per 8 x 10” tray. Sprinkle them evenly across the growing medium. It’s okay if a few of them land close together, but try to prevent clumps.
Once you sprinkle the seeds, cover them with a fine dusting of growing medium. Don’t bury them too deep; they just need a thin blanket of soil over them. Once you cover them, you can spray them generously with water from a spray bottle. Don’t allow water to puddle up or you’ll risk the seeds floating and landing in clumps.
Now it’s time for darkness. Cover the surface with your third tray or a towel. Make sure there aren’t any holes in the tray or that the towel is thick enough to create complete darkness. They will need to stay in the dark for 3-5 days and should be misted with water every twelve hours.
It’s time for the cover to come off of your seedlings when they develop the cotyledons, which are the first little leaves to appear. They’ll be pale due to the lack of sunlight, but they’ll soon get their gorgeous green color!
Your seedlings should receive at least twelve hours of sunlight each day. A sunny south-facing window may be able to provide your microgreens with enough light, but you may need to supplement it with a grow light. The light should be directly above the plants so they’ll grow upward and not have to reach for it. One of the difficulties with relying on sunlight coming through a window is that it will likely make them stretch out toward the window, resulting in lanky, spindly seedlings. A grow light will encourage the plants to grow uniformly.
Once you remove the cover, you can switch to bottom watering rather than misting. Fill the bottom tray with about an inch of water so the soil can absorb it through the drainage holes. This watering method is ideal because it’ll prevent mold from forming on the surface by the seedlings. Check the water level every couple of days to ensure it doesn’t dry out, and they should be ready in about two weeks. Keep an eye on your planted container, though, as if the soil is taking up too much water, you can develop fungal or mold problems with your fennel crop.
Try to avoid excess air movement over your growing microgreens, as this can cause your trays to dry out. If you do have a breeze blowing over your growing micro fennel, regularly moisten them as needed to make sure they don’t dry out in their container.
Micro fennel seed husks tend to cling to the cotyledons, but they should fall off by the time you’re ready to harvest. If there are still some hanging on for dear life, you can remove them by hand just before harvesting.
Fennel microgreens should be ready when they’re 2-3 inches tall and have been growing for about two weeks. You can go a little taller and longer if you’d like, but the taste will change as it grows. It should have a mild licorice taste and should be somewhat sweet. If you accidentally allow it to grow a little too long, go ahead and try it anyway—you might like it!
When it’s microgreens harvest time, do it early in the morning so the plants aren’t weak from being in the sun or grow light all day. Most plants taste better in the morning, so early harvesting is a good habit to get into. Use a pair of sharp scissors or shears and cut a half or one inch above the soil. This will prevent you from getting soil all over your harvested microgreens. You can also collect them with a sharp knife, but it needs to be razor-sharp. Otherwise, you’ll pull the micro fennel up by its roots and get soil everywhere.
Ideally, you should eat the mild, anise-flavored fennel microgreens as soon as you harvest them so you can enjoy them at their peak. You don’t have to rinse them if they’re not visibly dirty or if you didn’t use any chemicals or spot any pests.
If you’re unable to eat your fennel microgreens right away, they’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week. Store them with a paper towel in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. The paper towel will help absorb moisture to keep them in good condition for longer.
If you want to rinse your microgreens, wait to do it before you eat them rather than doing it before you store them. The less moisture stored with them, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you eat fennel microgreens?
A: Yes! Fennel microgreens are commonly used in Italian or Indian dishes. They taste the best when they’re cut at 2-3 inches tall.
Q: How do fennel microgreens grow?
A: Fennel microgreens grow quickly after they sprout. As long as you provide them with plenty of light and water, you can enjoy fresh micro fennel in as little as two weeks.
Q: How do you use fennel microgreens?
A: The sweet notes of micro fennel pairs well with seafood dishes, salads, sandwiches, soups, and many other dishes. It can be used as a garnish or a spice, too. Fennel herbs are very flavorful and can add a fresh pop of flavor to a wide variety of things. Growing fennel microgreens indoors will allow you to enjoy them year-round and give you the freedom to experiment with them.
Q: Are fennel sprouts healthy?
A: Micro fennel is packed with Vitamin C, E, and K, as well as fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. They’re a great way to add more nutrients to your diet.