Fenugreek scientifically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum is a clove-like aromatic spice. It is an essential ingredient in many spice blends. It is native to Asia, southern Europe, and the Mediterranean region. Asian Countries like India, China, Bangladesh, and Srilanka are popular growers and consumers of fenugreek.
The leaves and seeds of fenugreek are used extensively for culinary purposes. The seeds are used to enhance the strong aromatic flavor of other spices. In general, fenugreek is slightly bitter in taste. Still, it is a compliment to the famous Indian Spice mix “Garam masala”. Strange but true many Indian curries contain fenugreek seeds.
Other than culinary uses fenugreek is popularly used in Ayurvedic medicines. It is well known for its digestive qualities and immune booster capabilities. Consuming a small quantity of fenugreek seed or powder every day is considered good for all tummy related problems.
Today we will discuss some easy ways to grow fenugreek at home. If you like microgreens then you should know how to grow fenugreek.
Read this: How to grow Chillies?
Can we grow fenugreek at home?
Yes, we can grow fenugreek at home. In fact, growing this spice from seed is really very easy. But before that, you should decide whether you need the leaves or just the seeds.
Fenugreek is grown mainly for two reasons, the first is for its seeds and another is the leaves and plant itself.
The increase in demand has led to the development of different varieties of fenugreek. You can either select a variety with more seeds growth or something with more green leaves as per your requirements. It is obvious that for a sufficient quantity of edible seeds you have to grow it on large scale. Else, enough leaves can be obtained from a single pot or grow bag.
You can grow fenugreek for a family in a couple of pots or containers.
How much time do we need to soak fenugreek seed before sprouting?
15-20 hours soaking is enough to sprout fenugreek seeds. It can survive excessive soaking for a maximum of 30 hours though the rate of germination will reduce.
For best sprouting, you should soak fenugreek seeds just for 12 hours. This will start the germination process and also keeps the seeds firm to avoid any physical damage. Once the seed coat is removed by soaking, the seed core is open and vulnerable to any damage. So it is always good to avoid over-soaking.
How many days does fenugreek take to grow?
The process of growing fenugreek starts with sowing the seeds and ends with harvesting it. The entire process will take about 100 days. The growth process of fenugreek depends on many environmental factors. Some of these are- temperature, soil condition, watering, and infestation by several pests or fungus. These factors can greatly affect the growth of fenugreek and also changes the timeline.
How do you grow fenugreek in the water?
The easiest way to grow fenugreek is in simple water. This method is best for growing fenugreek as a microgreen. You should not expect any seed formation in this method.
Start with taking some healthy fenugreek seeds. A healthy seed is firm, heavy, and yellowish-brown in color. Check if the seeds drown or start floating over the water surface. The heavy seeds are mostly good for germination. Also, dry seeds should feel hard to press. It should not get squished by a simple finger press.
Soak the seeds for 15-20 hours in normal tap water. Avoid chlorinated water, it can reduce the chance of germination.
Strain the seeds after soaking and leave in the strainer for a day or two. It should sprout on its own. Meanwhile, you should spray some water every day to keep it moist.
This is an alternative, You can just follow step 3 if you want. Now after soaking you can wrap the soaked seeds in a light cotton towel.
This will provide some support and temperature for germination. Still, you may need to spray some water at regular intervals.
The Fenugreek seeds should sprout within 3-5 days. Sometimes it can take up to 7 days if the temperature is lower than expected.
How to Grow Fenugreek in Containers
- Step1: Select Seed of the best quality. You can also try my fav fenugreek seeds on amazon. Always check for validity date. Old seeds are not very good for germination.
- Step2: Soak the seeds for 15 hours, just overnight soaking is enough. Rinse and clean it for sowing.
- Step3: Prepare soil for sowing fenugreek seeds. You can use 2 part garden soil, 1 part compost, and 1 part cocopeat for best results.
- Step4: Spread the soaked seed evenly over the soil surface. Gently cover the seeds with a thin layer of the same soil mix.
- Step5: Spray some water and cover with the newspaper for 2 days. After 2 days remove the newspaper and keep the container in semi-shade for 1 week.
- Step6: Move the container in full sun after 10 days of germination. Be careful, you have to water the seedlings regularly to avoid drying.
- Step7: You can start harvesting fenugreek leaves from day 15 onwards. Sometimes you may have to wait for a few more days especially if the temperature is low.
- Tips: You thin some plants to encourage the healthy growth of others. Just use some plants in cooking and leave others to grow. Add some compost and nitrogen specific fertilizer every month to increase the green foliage.
Common names of fenugreek
Fenugreek is known as Methi in India. It is also known as “eru”, “Kimba”, and “Helba or hillba”, shanbalileh, fenugreek in Amharic is abesh (or abish).
From India to Egypt, Australia to Spain, fenugreek is gaining popularity among food lovers. So you can find dozens of different names to identify fenugreek.
Fenugreek growth stages
There are four important stages in the lifecycle of a Fenugreek plant. It grows from a small seed to a plant and then to hundreds of new seeds. All these take place between 100-120 days.
The journey of fenugreek starts with the seed. The first stage includes soaking and germinating the seed. This stage can take anywhere from 3-10 days. It mostly depends on climate conditions and the quality of seeds.
The second stage starts with the formation of the first set of true leaves. Once the germinated seedlings start developing true leaves, it is ready to be consumed. If you need just the leaves or the whole plant then this is it. You can start harvesting leaves once the plant has 8-10 leaf sets. This stage lasts for 45-60 days. It covers nearly half the life of a fenugreek plant.
The third stage starts with flowering. Now the leaves will start turning yellow. The plant will shed some leaves and look pale. The leaf harvesting phase is over now. You cannot use it for any culinary purpose. Instead, you have to wait for the seeds to develop. This stage lasts for 20-30 days.
Now the final stage starts with the formation of seed pods. Once the seed starts to develop, the journey of the fenugreek plant is about to end. The entire plant turns pale yellow and mature seedpods turn brown. It can take almost 20-30 days for the seedpods to develop and mature. The harvesting starts after 85-90 days of seed germination. Finally, the plant will die after harvesting.
But wait…. This isn’t over. The leftover can be used as manure and the best way to enrich soil after harvesting season ends.
Overall fenugreek is really easy to grow. With some knowledge and little effort, anyone can grow these herbs. What is your opinion about fenugreek, do you like it or have you tried growing these? Share your thoughts with us.
Good day and Happy Gardening.