Fenugreek is a herb that can be used in a variety of different pickles, chutneys and curry powders, especially in Indian cuisine. The seeds are the most commonly used portion of the plant. They have a nutty and slightly bitter taste. Fresh fenugreek leaves can also be used in salads or dried in a variety of different dishes.

Growing fenugreek:

Fenugreek, if given the right growing conditions, can get up to around two feet tall. The plant will have pale yellow and white flowers from the middle of summer.

It is best when starting from seed to sow these 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Fenugreek does not like to be transplanted however, and so the best idea is to plant the fenugreek ¼ inch deep in biodegradable pots (or toilet roll tubes which also work very well). These can then be planted straight into the garden without an disturbance to the roots. Seedlings can be planted at around 10cm apart.

It is better to harden off and plant out the fenugreek on a calm but overcast day once all risk of frost has passed, so the plant can become acclimatised without becoming stressed. Fenugreek should be planted in a location that gets plenty of full sunlight and is relatively sheltered. The best soil conditions for the herb to grow at its best are slightly acidic. Soil should be at a pH of around 6.5. The soil should be well-drained and loamy and should be high in fertility and rich in nutrients.

Fenugreek seeds can collected at the end of the growing season and left to dry. Pods can be threshed to extract the seeds and the chaff can be discarded by winnowing.

Fenugreek is the Roman name for this plant. The name translates as Greek hay – because clover was a common hay and the leaves of the plant resemble clover.

Plant fenugreek in a sensory garden and you will be treated to the surprising smell of maple syrup when you wander near.

Why grow fenugreek in the garden?

Fenugreek looks unobtrusive, like a common clover in fact, but it can be surprisingly helpful in the garden and in the kitchen. As a legume, it hosts nitrogen fixing bacteria on its roots which help it to take nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil in a form usable by other plants.

The seeds of fenugreek are easy to sprout and the resulting sprouts are considered to be an important health food and they are important in various societies including the Ayurvedic tradition.  

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Trigonella feonum-graecum