Lentil, scientifically named Lens culinaris , is an annual legume widely consumed both in Asia and North Africa, as well as in some regions of Europe and Latin America. It is a fairly resistant plant, which stands out for its excellent nutritional properties. Lentils are rich in carbohydrates and vegetable proteins, as well as containing a very low amount of fat, making them a complete and healthy food.
If you want to learn how to grow your own lentils at home, which will also help the soil to increase its nitrogen levels, keep reading us in this article in which we will teach you when and how to plant lentils step by step .
When to plant lentils
The sowing time of the lentil depends on the type of climate of the area where you are going to sow. If you live in a warm climate with mild winters, you can plant in the fall , while if the climate in your area is colder, it is recommended to do it after frost .
Another option is to plant your lentils indoors in a seedbed or pot about two weeks before the last frosts, for once these have passed, transplant them to their final location outdoors.
How to plant lentils step by step
Since this legume can be sown directly outdoors, we are going to see how to plant lentils step by step :
- Prepare the soil. Lentils need soil rich in organic matter, so you must enrich it with organic compost of some kind, such as compost, worm castings or bokashi . In addition, the plant requires that the soil has a good drainage and that the PH is between 5.5 and 9.
- Prepare your lentil seeds by soaking them overnight before sowing to facilitate germination. You can also germinate them indoors between moistened cottons and transplant them later.
- Sow the seeds to a depth of about three times the size of the seed, leaving a space of about 15 cm between them. You can cover them with newspaper or some other type of covering to protect them until they germinate.
- Water after sowing, but always avoiding waterlogging the soil.
Once you have already planted these legumes at home, we recommend that you follow these tips on the basic care of lentils so that the plant succeeds and you can enjoy them in your dishes.
Lentil is a plant that supports a certain measure of cold, but does not tolerate frost. Always plant them at a time when they will not be subjected to temperatures around 0ºC. In fact, its optimum temperature is between 6º and 28º.
The plant requires a good dose of sun, so plant them in one of the sunniest areas of your garden or field.
Soil for growing lentils
We have already said that this legume needs a soil rich in organic matter, but it is worth emphasizing the importance of having good drainage as well. Lentils are very susceptible to rotting due to excess moisture, and although they require slightly moist soil, puddling will be very harmful to them.
Watering the lentils
As we have just pointed out, lentils are grateful for a certain level of moisture in the soil. Despite this, they can withstand not very long droughts, so it is recommended to water when the soil begins to show signs of dryness. When the pods begin to dry out, it is convenient to space the waterings or even stop them.
It is not necessary, but it is advisable to provide the plant with a trellis or some other low structure on which it can rest. Otherwise, the plant will spread over the ground, needing more space and making it more vulnerable to attack by pests and diseases.
This plant appreciates being in an area with air passage, in the same way that it is better to avoid that the plants are too close to each other. Due to its vulnerability to humidity, the lentil is prone to being attacked by fungi if closed spaces or areas are created in it where the air does not circulate properly.
When to harvest lentils and how to do it
Depending on the temperature, climate and the specific species of lentil, you should be able to harvest your harvest within 80-110 days after sowing .
It should be harvested when the plant begins to dry out , at which point you must take it by cutting the stem and hang it upside down to dry completely, preferably in a paper or cloth bag. Once the plant is dry, shake it so that the seeds fall, and you can take advantage of the dry remains of the plant to make organic compost such as compost or humus.