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How to Grow Lentils | Guide to Growing Lentils

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How to Grow Lentils | Guide to Growing Lentils  



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Lentils are annual plants producing lens-shaped seeds. A cousin of the bean, the lentil belongs to the legume family, or those with seeds that grow within pods. Lentils are quite rich in iron and have the highest levels of protein of any vegetable next to soybeans. Once you know the right soil and climate conditions you can grow your own lentils.


Seed or Seedlings

10 days, 68F

5 years

Loose, Well Drained

Full Sun

1" apart

4" to 5" apart

80 to 110

Growing Guide
All beans and peas are legumes and benefit from "inoculating" with rhizobacteria. These bacteria do the work of taking gaseous nitrogen from the air and "fixing" or concentrating it in pink root nodules which then slough off, adding nitrogen to the soil in a form other plants can take up as a nutrient. Inoculating your beans and peas will increase germination, and the health of your plants, helping them growing large roots and thus healthier plants. Growing pole beans with corn provides an extra shot of nitrogen to the corn, a wonderful natural symbiotic relationship that the Native Americans understood very well. You will see a big difference in overall results. Healthy legumes should also be turned under the soil when production ends as they are excellent green manure for your next crops.

Lentils grow best at a soil pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

Once planted, seedlings tolerate light frost and can regrow from below the soil surface if the early frost damage is substantial.

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.

Potatoes, cucumbers, summer savory are companion plants. Avoid planting lentils with onions or garlic.

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.

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.


Harvesting Guide
Lentils are commonly used like dry beans or peas. For dried seeds, harvest pods when they have matured and hardened. Leave lentils unshelled until you are ready to use them. Dried lentils are ready for harvest 110 days after sowing. Lentil also can be used like snap beans; harvest these green about 70 to 80 days after sowing.

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. There is no point in picking green pods as the seeds are not mature enough at this stage.


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