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About Fenugreek: Fenugreek, which is native to India and the Middle East, is most familiar in many countries as one of the main ingredients of curry powder. Dating back 4,000 years to ancient Egypt, this herb had uses as diverse as a medicine, a spice, a dye, cattle fodder, or an element in the mummification process. Fresh fenugreek leaves, known as "methi," are used extensively in Indian cuisine. Fenugreek is one of India's most important exports. As a medicine, it is a valuable herb for diabetics since it can reduce the amount of sugar that the body absorbs from food; it also helps to cleanse the system of impurities. Since fenugreek has been used to induce labor, pregnant mothers should be careful to avoid it.

Fenugreek Germination: Fenugreek can be difficult to transplant, so direct sowing is the best option; this herb thrives in full sun and rich well-drained soil, but it will grow in nearly any kind of soil. A warm weather plant, it should be planted several weeks after the last spring frost. Sow the seeds thickly 1/4" deep, thinning to 4" apart when the seedlings appear. Germination should take place within a week; to improve the germination rate, soak the seeds overnight before planting. Fenugreek also makes an excellent container plant, and can be sprouted for microgreens.

Growing Fenugreek Seeds: Keep the soil consistently moist and control weeds. A layer of mulch may help with this, as well as protecting the leaves from too much soil contact. Fenugreek cannot tolerate frost, so if cold weather threatens provide protection.

Harvesting Fenugreek: Fenugreek leaves can be harvested at any time from the microgreen or sprout stage to their mature size. When the plant begins to flower, however, the culinary quality of the leaves declines. To store the fresh leaves, wash them carefully and strip them from the stems; store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The leaves can also be dried or frozen. To collect the seeds, wait until they rattle in the pod and shell them like peas. Store the seeds in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Saving Fenugreek Seeds: When the seeds reach maturity, the pods will turn yellow and the seeds will rattle inside. Pick the ripe pods and shell them like peas to remove the seeds. Store the seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Detailed Fenugreek Info: Trigonella foenum-graecum. Also known as Methi, Mathi, Bird's Foot, Greek Hayseed. Annual. 120 days. Zone 6-11. 1,900 seeds per oz. 18-24" height. 4-6" spacing. Produces a plant with strongly flavored, green clover-like leaves and small pale yellow flowers.

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