I have a mound of soil which I hope to grow pumpkins on later this year. In order to prepare it for planting I thought I would be a good idea to grow a green manure crop on
it. I like the concept of green manure but rarely have the space to actually put it into practice. Green Manure crops are crops which are grown quickly and then are ploughed back into the soil before they flower in order to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil. There are a whole range of crops which can be grown as green manure and many seed suppliers sell green manure seed mixes. I had a lot of fenugreek seed so I decided to use that as my green manure crop.
I wish I could tell you it was a great success however due to a combination of my not sowing enough seed in the first place, the birds raiding what I did sow and slugs and snails eating a lot of the foliage there wasn’t much to turn back into the soil. So I decided a much better course of action would be to eat it instead. I cooked Aloo Gobi Methi (Potato and Cauliflower Curry with Fenugreek) and I think I made the right decision. Yum.
From a culinary perspective Fenugreek is a herb; which is grown both for its leaves and its seeds. Although used in other cuisines, I am most familiar with their use in Indian Cookery where it is often known as Methi. As you can see in the above photo Fenugreek looks a bit like clover. The leaves are used both fresh and dried.
How I grow it:
Fenugreek is easily grown from seed. Seeds can be sown in Melbourne for much of the year, although I avoid the coldest months. I have had success growing it for leaves in both Spring and Autumn. If you want to grow it for seed though it is advisable to sow seed in Spring as the seed will ripen best during warmer weather. I have only ever sown seed direct so I’m not sure how it would cope with being transplanted. If you are after the leaves, it is a very quick crop – just a couple of months between sowing and harvest, if you want to harvest seed you will need to wait about 4- 6 months. Long seed pods will develop on the plants after flowering and once these dry out they can be harvested and completely dried before being stored for later use. The leaves can also be dried for future use.
Unlike some other herbs it does need a bit of looking after – it likes to be well fed and kept fairly moist. It prefers full sun but will grow in the shade as long as it gets some sun and a reasonable amount of light. For seed production as much sun as possible is preferable.