- Steps to Grow Fenugreek Greens
What is Fenugreek?
Mentioned in Egyptian papyrus writings from as early as 1500 B.C., Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants known. This ancient herb has strongly aromatic and flavorful seeds and leaves which are universally popular for their well-recognized culinary, as well as medicinal properties.
Fenugreek belongs to the legume family. It’s light green leaves, and small white flowers resemble clover. It produces long pods which contain 10 to 20 small hard seeds. When left in the soil, fenugreek roots and plants can improve soil fertility adding to its usefulness as a cover crop. It can be planted in your vegetable garden as part of a crop rotation plan to restore the nutrients in your soil.
Fenugreek is a popular ingredient in Indian and North African cuisines. Its seeds are used as a spice, and the fresh leaves are used in salad and vegetable dishes. When dried, Fenugreek leaves are used as an herb. The seeds and leaves are popular in Indian cuisine as they have a strong aroma and a bitter but pleasant taste when used in small quantities. Tender leaves and shoots impart a delicious flavor to salads while the seeds, when ground, are commonly used in curries, vegetable dishes.
Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to cure digestive problems and to improve breast milk production in women who are nursing their babies.
Native to southern Europe and Asia, fenugreek is popularly grown throughout Mediterranean regions, Argentina, France, India, and North Africa. Easy to grow, it is an ideal plant for beginners and those with limited planting space.
You can buy the seeds online, and many Indian grocery stores sell fresh seeds which are called ‘methi.” In Arab countries and Israel, they are called halbah or helbah. Always choose organic and non-GMO seeds when purchasing.
Health Benefits of Fenugreek
Management of Diabetes: The medicinal benefits of fenugreek are well known. It is considered a natural method to control diabetes. The 4-hydroxyisoleucine and high fiber content account for fenugreek’s anti-diabetic properties.
Memory Performance: Fenugreek increases levels of choline, which has neuroprotective properties. Mental aging and cognitive decline can be improved by consuming this herb.
Cancer Prevention: Diosgenin, a compound found in fenugreek, may help inhibit the growth of deadly cancer cells.
Inflammation and Cholesterol Control: Fenugreek seed extract has significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may alleviate inflammation and help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Steps to Grow Fenugreek Greens
Things you’ll need:
- Vermicompost or any other organic compost
- Coffee filter
- Spray pump
- Hand Trowel
- Garden sticker to label the plant
Step 1. Prepare the soil
These plants grow well in most soils, but a pH of no less than 6.0 is considered ideal.
It is important to amend the potting soil with about 2 inches of vermicompost or any other organic compost before planting to improve the soil quality and nutrient availability. Generally, a good quality organic potting soil will contain compost and other plant healthy ingredients to ensure the vitality of your plants.
Step 2. Line the planter with coffee filter
Select a planter or pot that has some holes in the bottom to facilitate drainage. The size of the planter can vary to suit your needs. Fenugreek has shallow roots, so it can easily grow in a 6-inch-deep planter.
Line the holes in the planter with small stones to ensure proper drainage.
Step 3. Fill the planter with the prepared soil
Fill the planter with the potting soil, leaving approximately a 1-inch space from the top of the soil to the rim of the container to allow for sufficient watering without causing the soil to wash out of the pot or container.
Step 4. Put seeds into the soil
It is not necessary to bury the seeds. Broadcast them generously and evenly on the soil and lightly cover with no more than approximately 1/8 inch of potting soil.
Step 5. Layer soil over the seeds
Mark your planter with a garden label including the date of sowing and set it aside to let the seeds germinate.
Spray mist the soil gently and keep it slightly moist until the seeds begin to sprout. Do not let the soil dry out.
Step 6. Monitor the development of the plants
Fenugreek germinates fast. Sprouting usually appears within 2 to 3 days. The micro-greens generally develop a couple of days after sprouting.
Fenugreek grows well in full sunlight to partial afternoon shade. It prefers a temperature between 50 and 90°F (10 to 32°C). It does not tolerate colder temperatures.
Water daily to keep your soil moist and prevent the new seedlings from drying out.
The plant’s growth rate depends on weather conditions and adequate care and watering. The leaves can be ready for harvesting as early as 1 month after planting.
In this example, the plants reached harvest maturity in a little over 2 months.
Step 7. Harvest accordingly
The plant is ready to harvest at 3 or 4 inches tall. Remember, Fenugreek has a strong flavor and a little goes a long way in fresh eating and cooking.
To harvest, simply cut individual leaves off the plant using garden or kitchen shears. Plucking the leaves with your hands may damage the plant.
Allow 2 to 3 inches of the plant to remain so that the leaves may grow again and produce another crop.
If you wish to harvest the seeds, allow the plant to mature until the pods appear. Wait for the pods to dry out before harvesting the seeds. Be informed that the flowering and seed production will complete the life cycle of the plant.
- Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. The soil at the bottom of the container should not remain wet as the plant roots may rot.
- If you are growing fenugreek for its seeds, spring is the best time to sow. The seeds have a milder taste when started early in the year.
- Fenugreek is rarely attacked by pests or disease. However, crickets, snails and slugs will feed on the fresh green leaves. Control these pests with an organic pesticide.
- Fenugreek cannot survive frost or very hot temperatures.