Fenugreek is an annual herb used for its seeds and leaves in Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. I came across this herb in my attempts to perfect a butter chicken recipe. Its seeds are a base spice in garam masala, a complex spice blend used in curries and marinades.
Fenugreek has been used throughout antiquity as a spice and in medicine. It is so ubiquitous in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, that the only thing I haven’t seen it used in is dessert.
In my kitchen I tend to add the dried leaves and toasted ground seeds to rubs and curries. However most kitchens will have difficulty accessing this spice unless they have a local Asian market that sells it. It’s not something you find readily at your local grocery store.
I learned of an easy way to produce my own fenugreek. Turns out fenugreek can be easily sprouted from fresh seeds sold in the spice trade.
I picked up a packet of seeds from Amazon in 2016, broadcasted the seeds in a pot, watered, and waited for the sprouts. The seeds remain viable for a long time as long they are stored in optimal condition.
I plan on using the sprouts as a garnish in salads. As soon as weather turns warmer, I may try to grow it in the garden and see how well it does in Texas summers. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce my own seeds to fill up my spice rack.
I made a few more seed purchases from Baker Creek and Amazon! I can’t wait to get these started. Watercress, baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli are Asian greens that I’ve been wanting to try my hand at. Hopefully, these will do well in my stock tank garden.
On a separate note, I do need to replenish my supply of basil seeds, because it seems my current inventory isn’t passing the towel germination test. Alas, I already retried starting them in another batch of soil blocks but it looks like I’ve struck out.
Wishlist: Pesto Perpetuo and African blue basil, both of which are vegetatively propagated. Unfortunately, I had a Pesto Perpetuo that I acquired this year but neglected to take care of. I will have to wait again next year to get a new starter plant.
Why does my catnip (nepeta cataria) smell like low-grade lemon balm? To add to my confusion, they look nearly alike.
I’ve discovered that the various catnip plants growing around my yard smell different.
For example, the potted plants I picked up at a nursery have a faint skunk-like odor, which intensifies when dried.
On the other hand, seed grown catnip have a faint minty-citrusy scent. I’ve observed that the minty scent intensifies in catnip grown in-ground versus container-grown catnip. Or maybe I’m just imagining it.
I had forgotten I had dumped some potting soil laced with catnip seed in my flower bed and the seedlings emerged between the perennials, well protected by its taller neighbors. Catnip is supposedly a mint relative, but I can’t attest to its invasiveness. I am waiting to see if this colony will survive the winter and spread during the warm seasons.
A side-by-side comparison displays how catnip can be easily confused for lemon balm: look for the fine hairs on catnip leaves and the golden hue on lemon balm leaves. Here’s an article enumerating the differences.
Regardless of the smell, my cats still react the same way to the skunk-odor catnip and the mint-scented catnip. Here’s Conan going after the mint-scented variety.
It’s not difficult for the cats to distinguish between catnip and lemon balm. The cats have a habit of destroying catnip plants whenever they are in reach, so identification is easy usually in the aftermath. As a result, I have elevated the potted catnip plants and take cuttings to hand out to the catkids.
A takeaway from all this is to label your seeds and cuttings!
Just a quick rundown of purchases and gardening activity that occurred this weekend.
While I was out and about food shopping on Friday, I did find it interesting to discover that Whole Foods Market in Plano sold organic herbs and plants. They are the only vendor in recent memory that seems to sell organic labeled plants.
I picked up a red-leafed celosia and a dracaena at Strong’s Nursery intended for another bowl planter. This meant of course that I had to purchase more planter boxes and bowls.
On Saturday, I made my way back to Meador Nursery in search of herbs and sedum. I didn’t find the herbs I wanted, but I did buy a tray of succulents to add to the front yard stone path: Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’, Sedum polytrichoides ‘Chocolate Ball’, and one that was “possibly” mismarked as Sunsparkler Lime Zinger.
On Sunday, we found our way out in Allen at Puckett’s Nursery, where we picked up the first golden oregano of the season and sedum Lemon Coral.
Due to an allergy that’s persisted since last weekend’s planting, I’ve refrained from outdoor work to give my body a chance to heal. I suspect that handling certain plants and being out in the sun too long has brought on a rash that’s covered the length of my outer arms.