If you’ve enjoyed homegrown fenugreek greens and want to try your hand at harvesting the seeds, then rest assured. Cultivating fenugreek seeds is almost as easy as growing fenugreek greens.
When it comes to vegetable gardening, fenugreek has always been considered one of those perfect-for-beginners plants. You can even engage your kids in the project. Fast growth and speedy results will help them develop an interest in gardening.
Fenugreek seeds are pungent and aromatic, small, yellow-brown seeds. They are great for health and have been traditionally used as a spice as well as medicine in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and northern Africa.
Recent studies have also seconded the health benefits of fenugreek seeds. They can help control Type 2 diabetes (1), increase breast milk production in lactating women and increase libido in men.
If you want to grow fenugreek seeds for consumption or simply save them for the next sowing of fenugreek greens, here’s how to go about growing and harvesting fenugreek seeds in your garden.
Steps to Harvest Fenugreek Seeds
Things you’ll need:
- Garden pressure spray pump
- Organic compost
- Fenugreek seeds
- Gardening gloves
- Garden shovel or trowel
Step 1. Prepare the planting bed
- Choose a spot that gets a decent amount of sun.
- By hand, mix 1 part of organic compost with 2 parts of the topsoil in your garden.
- Ensure that the soil is well-draining and that there are no lumps or rocks in it. Fenugreek prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil (6 pH to 7 pH).
Step 2. Sow the seeds
- Sprinkle the seeds evenly on the surface of the planting bed.
- If you’re worried about birds pecking the sown seeds, cover the seeds with a light layer of soil.
- Water the planting bed, saturating the soil without flooding the bed.
Step 3. Oversee the plants’ growth
- Fenugreek seeds can germinate as soon as 3 or 4 days after putting them into the soil, but delayed germination may take a week. The ideal temperature range for germination is 50° F to 90° F.
- Regular watering early in the day is advised. Regulate the frequency of watering to maintain the balance of the soil’s moisture content.
- While pests are not a common problem with fenugreek, keep an eye out for aphids. Crickets, snails, and slugs also love the tender fenugreek leaves.
- While fenugreek greens can be ready for harvesting within 20 days after germination, you may need to wait 2 to 4 months to harvest the seeds, depending on the growing conditions.
- Feel free to harvest the fenugreek greens until the plants start blooming. As the greens become sturdy and toughen up for reproduction, they acquire a bitter taste that no one will enjoy.
- You should be able to harvest the greens 3 or 4 times before the plants take to bloom. Always snip off only one-third of the leaves from each plant, allowing the rest of the plant to continue growing. This also serves the purpose of pruning, which promotes branching and results in increased flowering and seed pod production.
Step 4. Harvest the seed pods
- Fenugreek plants produce thin, long pods that are initially green. Let the plant complete its life cycle and die naturally. Harvest the pods after the plant dries up and turns yellow.
- Simply snap off the stalk of the yellow and dried fenugreek pods where they meet the stems.
- Be careful handling the delicate, papery pods. Torn pods will scatter the seeds everywhere.
- Collect all the pods from the plant.
Step 5. Extract the fenugreek seeds from the pods
- Peel the papery pods open to reveal yellow-brown seeds.
- You can also rub the pods between your palms to break them open and extract the seeds. If you find this messy, you can put the pods in a plastic bag and rub it vigorously to separate the seeds from the pods.
Tips for growing and harvesting fenugreek seeds
- Thin the plants after 5 to 6 weeks if they look overcrowded.
- Avoid delaying the harvest to keep the pods from breaking open, as this can reduce the harvest significantly.
- Add the plant waste to compost for rich nitrogen content.
1. Kassaian N, Azadbakht L, Forghani B, Amini M. Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutritional Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839001. Published January 2009.