How to Grow Fennel In Paperpots (Paper Chain Pots)

Growing Fennel in Paperpots

Better germination!

No hand transplanting!

Less transplant shock!

Fennel is a perfect crop to grow in paper chain pots. Starting the seeds in the nursery, versus the field, gives you great germination rates; and the fennel seedlings transplant easily with the Paperpot Transplanter.

Fennel is a crop that most market gardeners wouldn’t think of as a paperpot crop, but it’s one that works really well in the Paperpot system. 

The Paperpot Transplanter can transplant seedlings quickly and easily into the field 28 days after starting the seeds.

All without bending over and less transplant shock!

The fennel bulbs will size up perfectly – the paper chain doesn’t affect bulb formation.

The Specifications for Paperpot Fennels

ROWS PER 100’ X 30” BED4
TRAYS PER 100’ X 30” BED 3
KWIK KLIK™ TOP PLATE Plate: Paperpot (264 holes) / Thickness: 3mm / Hole Diameter: 5mm
SEED PER 100’ X 30’ BED760 seeds (+/-) *Always round up when placing seed orders to ensure having enough
GERMINATION 72 hours at 78°F
DAYS TO TRANSPLANT 28 days (+/-) *time from seeding to transplanting in the field
DAYS TO MATURITY 60 days (+/-) *time from seeding to being ready for harvest
HARVEST WINDOW14 days (+/-) *time crop is at ideal stage for harvest after reaching maturity
TOTAL DAYS IN FIELD 46 days (+/-) *DTM + harvest window - days to transplant
HARVEST UNIT Bulb (3-5" in diameter)
TARGET CROP YIELD 760 bulbs (+/-)
PRICE PER UNIT $1.5 *depending on local market pricing
REVENUE PER BED $1140 *depending on local market pricing
SEEDINGKwik Klik™ Drop Seeder, Paperpot Germination Trays, Paper Chain Pots
TRANSPLANTINGPaperpot Transplanter
TILTHINGPower Harrow or Precision Depth Roller (With no tractor: Tither)
AERATIONMeadow Creature Broadfork
SHAPINGBed Preparation Rake
CULTIVATIONWheel Hoe w/ Bio-Disc Cultivator or Flex Tine Weeder

Suggested Tools for Paperpot Fennels

Bed Preparation for Paperpot Transplanting

  • Broadfork the bed to aerate and loosen the soil.
  • Smooth and shape the bed with a bed preparation rake, removing any debris.
  • If the previous crop was fertilized, fennel will do fine without reapplication.
  • If not, here are two options:
    • 1) Layer on 1” of compost, enough to mostly cover the native soil.
    • 2) Sprinkle on a combination of alfalfa meal and pelleted chicken manure.
  • If layering compost, do not tilth in hopes of smothering any surface weed seed.
  • If adding amendments, tilth the top 1-2” of soil to mix in amendments.
  • Irrigate for 10-14 days*, allowing any weed seed in top layer of soil to germinate.
  • Flame weed the bed when the cotyledons of the weed seeds have emerged.

Growing Fennel in Paperpots

Seeding Fennels in Paperpots

Prepare trays with 6” paper chain pots, and fill with potting mix. 

Install Paperpot bottom plate and specified top plate into Kwik Klik™ (KK) Drop Seeder. Pour seed onto the top plate and rotate until one seed fills each hole. 

Position the KK Drop Seeder over the tray, ensuring the holes are lined up with the cells, and click to drop the seeds. 

Water the trays, then place in germination chamber for 72 hours at 78°. 

Transfer the trays to greenhouse tables after germination. 

Thoroughly water trays before heading to the field for transplanting.

Using the Paperpot Transplanter, plant the four rows of fennel.

4 rows on a 30″ bed: 7.5” between rows, 3.75” from the outer rows to the edge of the bed.

Reference for instructional videos if needed.

Transplanting Fennels with the Paperpot Transplanter


Water the beds thoroughly with overhead irrigation or four rows of drip.

Frequent shallow waterings will support rapid growth.

10-14 days after transplanting, cultivate using a Terrateck Wheel Hoe with the bio-disc cultivator attachment.

A weekly pass with the flex tine weeder is also an effective tool for preventing weeds.

Cultivation (Weeding)

Harvesting Fennel

Fennel is ready for harvest when the bulbs are 3-5”.

Fennel is harvested while straddling the 30” bed and cutting at the base with a harvest knife.

Discard any fennel that has blemished or softs spots.

Spray all sides of the bulbs one at a time with the high pressure Washdown Gun.

Transfer the washed bulbs to totes, and store at 35° until taken to market.

Washing and Packing Fennel

Overall Paper Chain Pots make fennel a much more farmer-friendly crop.

Time savings, ease of transplanting, and high germination rates are some of the reasons why fennel is one of the most popular market garden crops grown in paperpots.

Get started growing fennel on your farm using a Paperpot Transplanter and download the Growers Notes below.


If you have any questions, please reach out or 877.850.1555.