Saturday, 25 May 2013

Growing Methi (fenugreek) in a Container.

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                                                  By Ahmed Esat


                                                                                    Video-How to grow methi in a container.


            Main Growing Requirements

               Seed Selection

This is one of the most important requirements of successful methi growing. Lack of good quality seeds outside India means that most gardeners resort to whole methi from their spice jar. While these can be successfully used, there are potential pitfalls.

Imported spices may have left their country of origin several years before and may have been subject to quarantine restrictions including treatment to destroy micro-organisms. These treatments can be harmful to the seed nucleus resulting in poor germination and plant quality.

               Save your own seeds

The best practice is to allow some of your own best plants to seed. Only choose those that have shown the best qualities of disease resistance and size. Remember to continue feeding and watering until the pods are mature and the plant starts fading of its own accord. These seeds will have all the characteristics of the mother plant and will also be fresh.
Store the methi seeds in a small brown paper bag. If they can be retained in their pods till needed, this will ensure protection and freshness

                  Soil Preparation

Select a container of choice then fill it halfway with good potting soil. Add some manure or compost if not already included in the potting mix.

Water the container very well about an hour before sowing the seed. Thereafter, arrage a shallow trenching pattern for seed sowing. Most gardeners prefer straight lines but you can also try criss-cross patterns. For mass sowing, simply pat the soil down so it becomes more compact.


       criss-cross pattern It will be beneficial to water the trenches again so as to avoid having to disturb the soil after sowing.

    Sowing:"Mass planting" and "row sowing."

There are two main techniques. Either sow seeds thickly for MASS PLANTING then thin out if required after germination. Alternatively, space out single seeds about 5mm apart (quarter inch) in ROW SOWING. Most methi growers recommend a depth of 5mm but I prefer them a little deeper to ensure stable plants. Once sown, cover the trenches and pat the soil down. For mass planting, cover the seed with about 5/8mm of fine soil and press carefully to compact the soil. No further watering is required till after germination.


                              Mass sowing

methi seeds sown in the growing trench.

        Waiting for Germination and Danger from Crickets

Germination is rapid-usually about 3 days and the young tender shoots are a delicacy for almost every bug and pest for miles around especially crickets. This is when methi is most vulnerable! Placing glass over your container helps speed up germination and provides protection from pests but you need to remove the glass immediately after germination otherwise the seedlings will become lanky and unstable.

                                                                              Glass sheet over the container.

It is also advisable to find a spot that is safe from crickets. I prefer to keep the container away from spots in the garden that have tender greens. An alternative is to spray natural pyrethrum into nooks around the container or take the container indoors from late  afternoon as these critters operate from about sunset.

                                                      A heartbreaking sight-methi decimated by crickets

                                                                                 This can discourage crickets!


                                             Germination from mass sowing!

                 A great start-methi sown en masse and not thinned out.  Probably the best way to go.

                 Result of Criss-cross or row- sowing

                                                         More sparse

             Hardening Watering and Feeding.

 Now that you have germination, the next priority is to speed up their growth and harden the seedlings so they can take direct sunlight. The key is to achieve a rapid spurt of growth. Not only does this ensure good health, but more important, it matures the seedling to a state that is no longer palatable to pests.
This is achieved by feeding with nitrogen, either through the roots or via the leaves, or both. As a foliar feed, use a fish emulsion spray immediately the seedlings emerge. Remember to adjust the nozzle to a fine spray to avoid damaging the tender seedlings. 

                                                                  Fine Nozzle Spray

The nitrogen can also be fed from the bottom of the container and this is the best method because it prevents damage from water spurts. It also provides nitrogen directly to the roots. Bottom feeding by capillary action also safeguards your crop against damping off and other fungal diseases which can decimate an  entire crop overnight.

                   Best method of bottom feeding

If you do not have a large enough container, use a wheelbarrow. Fill water to the required level then add the fish emulsion as per instructions. Seaweed solution and compost tea combined with the fish emulsion provide a powerful cocktail but are not essential. If you have no objections to using chemical fertilisers then find an equivalent liquid feed.

Thereafter place the container into the barrow of water and leave overnight. Remove during the day and allow water to drain out. Repeat this daily until harvest.This is a brilliant method of watering and feeding your methi because it prevents damage to the fragile stems which occurs when watering from the top. I also like to keep the container this way overnight as the crickets cannot get to it. Repeat this process religiously till harvest.

Methi watered in this way can tolerate long periods of direct sun though I prefer the container in a spot that receives more early morning or late afternoon sun. Containers can dry out rapidly so it is important to inspect your crop daily. 


Within 25/30 days your methi will be ready to harvest. Simply cut off small sections from the tops of the plants. This will encourage more growth so long as feeding continues. You will now have a successful batch of crops that will provide fresh greens for many more weeks.

                                    Methi from spaced out germination-ready to harvest

                                                                                          Methi from mass germination-a great result!

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My related links              
 Health benefits of methi-click

Easy recipe for methi-step by step-click

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