Fresh Fennel root
Plant an Italian garden to always have fresh herbs and vegetables on hand for preparing superb and nutritional meals. Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Fennel and Rosemary are basic herbs and standbys that grow well and produce plentiful crops.
Basil is one of the most rewarding crops to plant. Because a packet of seeds produces many plants, it is not necessary to use an entire envelope. Purchasing a small container of six sets is fine for the average family. It will also yield enough to share with neighbors and no one ever turns down fresh basil. For Los Angeles County, Basil is perfect as it is a warm season plant and requires full sun.
Oregano and Parsley are also love full California sun. Oregano is a spreader so allot appropriate space for its growth. Rosemary, that fragrant and wonderful bush type plant is highly drought resistant. Use Rosemary as a shrub border and attract beneficial bees to the garden.
Fennel is usable as a root vegetable and its seeds cultivated as a spice. The overall taste is like black licorice although true licorice does not contain any. See http://www.apinchof.com/fennel1031.html for complete information on its taste and usage.
Grow Italian at http://growitalian.com has a downloadable catalog of seeds from Italy. The site also offers authentic recipes of Peperonata (a slow-cooked yellow and red pepper dish), Squash soup (made with the winter version of the vegetable) and Bruschetta with tomato and arugala.
Organic seeds are found at Organica Seed Co at http://www.organicaseedco.com/herbs.html
True Italian seeds are sold at Italian Seed and Tool Company http://www.italianseedandtool.com
For some unusual varieties of Italian herbs, go to http://www.eseeds.com/c-91-unusual-vegetables.aspx for the beautiful green and purple heirloom artichoke.