Lentils are a colder season crop and perfect for an early crop in the year. I totally blame Vivi from Vivi’sKitchen garden she is the one that got me excited to grow these little legumes. A cousin of the bean, the lentil belongs to the legume family or those with seeds that grow within pods. I love trying new crops and I have been itching to try lentils in the garden as we use them in recipes like this tasty Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry. So below is my guide on How to grow your own Lentils to help you grown these little tasty morsels.
Lentils are a hardy annual; they are a member of the pea/bean family. Lentils grow on sparsely branched vines from 18 to 24 inches tall. The lentil has small whitish to light purple pea-like flowers. Pods are small, broad, flat and contain one or two flat, lens-shaped seeds that are green or yellow to orange, red or brown.
Also, Lentils can be grown as a micro-crop for a quick nutritious crop by sprouting them but not growing them on we might try both as I have lots of seeds.
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How to grow your own Lentils
When to Plant Lentils
Sow lentils in spring as early as 2 weeks before the average last frost date. Lentils can be started indoors before transplanting to the garden; lentil seeds will germinate in 10 days at 68°F. Lentils require 80 to 110 days to come to harvest. You will need to plant 4 at least 4 plants per family member.
Lentil Varieties to try
Lentils can be divided into large lentils and small lentils. There are dozens of varieties of each type. Three common lentil varieties are flat red ones, small green ones, and large pea-shaped ones.
Where Lentils like to grow
Plant lentils in full sun. Lentils prefer loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter but they will grow in poorer soil.Lentils grow best in a soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Add some compost to planting beds before sowing.
Planting and spacing.
Plant lentil seeds ½ to 1 inch deep, spaced 1 inch apart. Thin successful seedlings to 4 to 5 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Lentils can grow in pots but you will need few to get a good crop and the posts must be at least 8 inches deep.
Water and feeding your lentils
Keep lentils evenly moist. Lentils are more drought tolerant than other beans. Do not water lentils once pods have begun to dry. Add aged compost to planting beds before sowing. Side dress lentils with compost tea when plants are 5 inches tall and again at flowering.
Good Companion plants for Lentils
Avoid planting lentils with onions or garlic or in a bed you have just grown peas in
How to care for your Lentils
Support lentils with a low trellis. Without a trellis, lentils should be set 5 inches apart to ensure ample air circulation. Protect early crops from pests and frost with row covers.
What Pests bother lentils
Aphids may attack lentils. Control aphids by pinching out infested areas or hose them off of the plant with a blast of water. Weevils may attack lentils; remove and destroy infested plants. Rotate crops to avoid repeat infestations.
Diseases. Lentils have no serious disease problems. Mildew may attack lentils that are too closely planted.
When to Harvest your Lentils
Lentils are commonly used like dry beans or peas. For dried seeds, harvest pods when they have matured and hardened. Leave lentils un-shelled until you are ready to use them. Dried lentils are ready for harvest 110 days after sowing so planting in March and they will be ready in Late June. Lentil also can be used like snap beans; harvest these green about 70 to 80 days after sowing.
Storing and preserving Lentils
Unshelled green-pod lentils will keep in the refrigerator for one week. Dried, shelled lentils can be stored in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months.
How to save Lentil seeds
This year we are going to try more seed saving in the Organic Kitchen Garden. It is a suggested that you earmark a couple of plants at the beginning of the season for seed saving. Don’t pick any pods from them to eat – just pick the crisp brown pods at the end of the season. Don’t feed them, or water them unless it is very dry – as this can encourage leafy growth rather than pod development.
I hope you enjoyed this guide on How to grow your own Lentils and try growing your own to feed your family this year. Here are some more growing guides to help you grow your own organic vegetables.
- Why Growing Kale is a great idea
- How to grow organic Cabbages all year
- 10 Tips to Grow Great Strawberries
You can find all about the Snapshot and Snippets Organic Kitchen Garden here – Planning your Organic Vegetable Garden
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