Are you planning your vegetable garden for the summer? Fenugreek offers you a fantastic spinach alternative, and it comes packed with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Fenugreek is easy to grow, and it suits planting on the balcony or in containers on the patio or balcony.
Fenugreek, also known as “Methi,” is a native plant to Southwest Asia. Locals cultivate it for culinary and medicinal uses, giving it versatility in the garden and the kitchen. Some cultures use the seeds as a spice, the dried leaves of the plant as an herbal tonic, and the tender green leaves for cooking.
Fenugreek has a slightly bitter aftertaste, similar to what you get from eating bok choy or mustard greens. Fortunately for Americans, Fenugreek grows readily across all USDA Hardiness Zones. It’s an easy-growing plant, requiring minimal care and attention during the growing season.
Some of the other names for fenugreek include Abesh, Shanbalile, Hilba, Halba, Hilbeh, Helba, and Kasturi methi. This guide gives you everything you need to know about growing fenugreek in flowerbeds and containers.
How to Grow Fenugreek
Fenugreek is an easy plant to grow, and that’s why we recommend it for beginner gardeners.
Follow these tips when planting and caring for your fenugreek.
Fenugreek likes growing in soils that have a pH of between 6.0 to 7.0. Amending your soil until it achieves a 6.4 pH is ideal for growing fenugreek. The soil also requires amendment with compost, as lean soils lead to poor harvests.
Plant your fenugreek seeds at a depth of around ½”, covering the seeds with a light layer of soil or peat moss. Make sure you turn the soil and loosen it properly before planting., This strategy allows the roots to penetrate the ground, devolving a robust root system for higher harvest yields.
Plant your fenugreek in the early springtime. The plants will accelerate in growth as the soil and weather warm up. Plant your fenugreek in a spot in the veggie garden that gets at least four to five hours of direct sunlight per day. We prefer positioning the fenugreek, so it catches the early morning sun, with shade in the afternoon.
However, if you’re growing fenugreek in a cool climate, planting in the full sun will help to spur growth. Plant your fenugreek between the months of early spring to early fall, and the earlier you plant them, the better the chance of harvesting the fenugreek in the same season.
If you live in regions of the US that have a late start to the summer, gardeners can start their seeds indoors. Start the seeds around five weeks before the last frost date (check your local listings for frost dates).
When the weather warms up, plant your seedlings out in the garden towards mid-April. After the plant finishes flowering, it starts to produce seeds that are ready by mid-summer. Planting later in the spring leads to a late summer harvest.
As soon as the ground warms up to temperatures of 65F, plant the fenugreek out in the garden as quickly as possible. It’s important for gardeners to note that they shouldn’t transplant fenugreek older than four to five weeks.
The fenugreek doesn’t like it when you move it around, and you’ll stunt the plant’s growth. While the plant grows readily, many of them will experience environmental conditions that limit the growth potential of these plants.
Gardeners should take the time to rotate their harvest every two to three weeks. Rotating harvests ensure that you get a steady supply of fenugreek for the dinner table throughout the growing season.
To rotate your harvests, stagger the planting every two weeks throughout the spring. Keep planting all the way to mid-May for a late summer harvest.
Temperature and Humidity
The fenugreek plant grows optimally in warm climates. The plant does best in environments with temperatures ranging from 50F to 90 F. When planting your seeds in the veggie garden or outdoors in containers, start them in the early spring or summer.
The plants don’t require much humidity to thrive, and they grow year-round in USDA Zones nine through eleven. As long as there is no frost in the winter, you can harvest and plant fenugreek throughout the year.
Fenugreek Plant Care and Requirements
The fenugreek is a great choice for beginner gardeners, thanks to its hardy nature. Follow these tips when watering and fertilizing your fenugreek plant.
The fenugreek enjoys regular watering during the growing season. Leaving the plant to dry out reduces the final yield at harvest. Keep the soil moist around the plant at all times, but don’t waterlog the ground.
Typically, the fenugreek requires aro8ndan inch of water a week, and maybe a little more in warmer climates.
The fenugreek plant can grow in lean soils. However, you’ll get much better results growing in a nutrient-rich substrate. If you’re planting in fertile soil, then you probably don’t have to worry about fertilizing your fenugreek during the growing season.
However, gardeners have the option of fertilizing the plant to accelerate growth and harvest yield. You can add a ligiid-based fertilizer to the pot or flowerbed every other week during the growing season.
Growing Fenugreek in Containers
The fenugreek is a great choice for the garden, but it also does well in pots., the short stature of the plant makes it ideal for container growing, and you’ll get the same results you would if you planted out in the garden. As a result, the fenugreek is ideal for balcony growing, giving you some fresh veggies throughout the summer.
To plant your fenugreek in containers, look for a pot that’s around six to eight inches deep, and 15-inches in diameter. The container should have drainage holes at the bottom to let water escape the pot to avoid root rot from setting in on your fenugreek.
Fenugreek grows shallow roots, so a deep pot isn’t necessary. Spread a thin layer of gravel across the base of the pot to improve drainage and fill it with rich potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds over the ground, and cover with a light player of peat moss. We recommend leaving at least 2-inches between seeds for spacing.
However, gardeners growing fenugreek for microgreens don’t have to worry about the spacing requirements when planting.
Pests and Diseases Affecting Fenugreek
The fenugreek is a somewhat disease and pest-free plant to grow in the veggie garden. However, there is a chance of pests and disease infesting your plants if you don’t give them the right care. Here are the top problems affecting your fenugreek crop.
Aphids are small bugs that have a black appearance. They find their way to your fenugreek crop and start invading the spaces between the leaves. If you pull apart the leaves and find aphids, you’ll have to chase them away.
Aphids suck on the juices of the plant, resulting in spot damage to the leaves. If you find aphids on your fenugreek, spray the plants down with a diluted neem oil solution. Neem oil is non-toxic, and you can rinse it off the leaves before using it in meals.
White powdery mildew occurs when the weather gets cold and there’s rain or high humidity levels in the air. Fenugreek plants spaced to close together reduce the airflow around the planting site.
As a result, WPM starts to accumulate on the foliage, spreading through our crop. You’ll need to remove any vegetation contaminated by WPM and throw it in the trash. Please don’t throw it away in the compost heap, as the pathogen infects the organic material.
Cercospora Leaf Spots
Fenugreek experiencing a leaf spot infection will develop sunken spots on the leaves. The spots discolor the leaf, requiring removal from the plant. However, it’s important to note that the plant will only experience infection if the pathogen infests the seeds.
Overwatering your fenugreek is a bad idea. Overwatering leads to soggy soil and the development of root rot in the plants. Root rot kills the foliage, causing the plant to die. Keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater your fenugreek.
Typically, provided there are the right growing conditions, your fenugreek will be ready for harvest from transplants in 20 to 30-days. Trim the fresh leaves off the plant, and leave the twigs. The twigs will sprout again in around 15 days after harvesting.
Gardeners can collect up to four harvests from the plant during the growing season, provided the fenugreek has optimal growing conditions. When planting from seed, it may take up to four months for your harvest.
Using Fenugreek in the Kitchen
When biting into a piece of fenugreek, you’ll experience crunchy, firm texture, with a sweet and sour contrast of flavors. The fenugreek has a unique taste that’s unlike any other vegetable.
Egyptian, Persian, and Ethiopian cuisine make use of fenugreek in dishes, and the fresh seeds of the plant are a great addition to salads. The dried seeds also act as a seasoning for pickling other veggies from the garden.