(Italian porchetta with fennel pollen, on creamy polenta)
Last weekend, while at the Les Dames d’Escoffier – Boston “Feast in the Field” event, I had the opportunity to eat something I have NEVER eaten before – Fennel Pollen. It was encased in a heavenly roll of roasted sustainably grown pork belly. I didn’t realize it was there (wasn’t expecting it) but when I took a bite it blossomed in my mouth – bang!
I need to taste it again before I can really describe it in detail. I can say that it was fennel amplified.
This ingredient is VERY expensive and hard to get (need to order it, can’t get it at a local store) but I realized that this MIGHT be a crop which I can grow and market.
To this end, I dedicated one of our unheated raised beds to intensive cultivation of fennel (and I am thinking about expanding this to other areas around our house and potentially, if I can get a system down, some leased land).
This unheated bed is not two feet high like our main garden and fennel seeds are a bit tricky to sow (they are sickle shaped and do not roll out of my hand neatly). For this reason, I wanted to make it easier to plant these guys.
I found this site that describes making your own seed tape. Other sites suggest using newspapers and flour paste, etc etc. That is good if you are going to store it, which I am not, I wanted to plant right away.
Use toilet paper – ours is single ply scott.
Essentially, you use a length of toilet paper (mine was 8 feet long) , a spray bottle with water, and your seed.
Spray the toilet paper and then lay the seed down in the center, at distances that you want to grow the plant. In my case it was in the middle of each square. I know this is tight for normal planting but we will see what happens. Everything else I am growing it planted a bit tighter than is suggested.
Spray a bit more and then fold over one edge and then the other to form a triple ply strip. Spray again and gently pat down the strip.
I rolled each strip onto a small plastic pot that a plant came in. You cant really carry the wet toilet paper around, rolling it up is better.
I then rolled the strips out on the soil. I adjusted them to a desired spacing.
Then I covered the strips with the recommended amount of soil and then watered.
I will let you know how this goes!