Methi leaves and seeds are commonly used in Indian kitchens are an integral part of the diets of diabetic patients. Though slightly bitter in taste, methi is liked by many people. Once the seeds are sown, tiny seedlings come up in a couple of days and your methi crop is ready in almost 20days. Growing methi is as easy as this. If you are a budding gardener, there’s no better way than to start!
Season: The good season to plant the fenugreek seeds is when the climate is sunny and hot. Sow them immediately after winter is over. Since the crop grows in hot climates, regular watering is also necessary.
Location Constraints: As the plants are very small and occupy very little space it is very advantageous to cultivate fenugreek in your balcony, patio or any such place in your apartment or house. Fill up the pot with well drained soil so that the water doesn’t stagnate and place it in a sunny spot.
Sunlight: Not just 6 or 8hours but methi needs a continuous supply of bright sunlight to thrive. Though it needs shade too, natural sunlight favours your methi crop. If the day temperature dips or there isn’t enough light, ensure the pots stay in dim daylight atleast.
Spacing: Fenugreek seeds should be sown directly into soil with not more than 0.5cms deep and 20cms apart. Though the leaves grow bushy, the roots are very fragile and shallow. So spacing will never be a problem. Just ensure you don’t sow too many seeds making the pot messy.
Growth: Germination of methi seeds happens within a week. Unlike other herbs it grows on damp soil hence generous watering should be done after seeding. Excess watering may cause the seeds to die. It does not like to be transplanted from pot to soil, so keep growing them wherever you have sown the seeds.
Height and Spreading: Fenugreek may grow to about 60cms tall with white or yellow flowers and long yellow seedpods after the flowering stage. If you find pale coloured leaves with weak pods, pick them off without delay and sow new seeds.
Temperature: Warm and hot temperatures are required for the seeds of fenugreek to germinate and grow appropriately. Although it can take a little chilly weather there is always a danger of pod drying. Large leaved methi dies in cold weather but the smaller leaves continue to grow.
Watering: Lesser amounts but frequent watering is mandatory for methi seeds to grow and develop. After seeding and correct watering the results start showing in less than a week’s time. At the same time, water stagnation induces a lot of problems in the crop.
Nutrient Management: Fenugreek, even though a legume should be checked for its nitrogen fixation process. To check if the plant is fixing nitrogen carefully check the roots for pink coloured nodules. If the nodules are missing, try using nitrogen based organic fertiliser. Weak plants produce dull flavoured leaves and seeds which cannot be used at all.
Pest Management: Methi is usually pest free. However, damp soil can cause the roots to rot. After sowing the seeds, care should be taken to avoid birds eating the seeds digging into your pot or container. Use a net to prevent bird attacks.
Harvesting: After 5 to 6 weeks, methi leaves are ready for harvest. Lush green leaves fill up the pot making it a visual treat to watch. If there are flowers then they might be used to collect seeds to sow back again for germination.
Uses and health benefits: Though a little bitter, methi is a powerhouse of nutrition. Regular consumption of methi seeds keeps diabetes under control by regulating blood sugar levels. Fenugreek is widely used in beauty products like scrubs, face washes, scar removal creams, pimple creams and anti-aging lotions. If you wish to glow every day, you know what to do!
Additional Information:If methi seeds are too bitter to be used in cooking, you can roast them a little before adding them to a dish. The roasting process reduces the bitterness.