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r ranson
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Lentils, such tiny little pulses filled with potential to be all manner of delicious foods. A cool weather plant, usually growing the same time as garden and soup peas, these little gems are as good for the soil as they are for us.

Plants for the future says that lentils will grow in "light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil." This would make them quite handy for improving marginal land, as they are good nitrogen fixers. I suspect they would have great uses in permaculture, as lentils don't grow very tall and would make a useful companion plant for many leafy greens.

There seems to be mixed thoughts as to how frost tolerant this plant is. The young plants have survived mild frost in my garden.



Heirloom organics has some general info on growing lentils. They say that aphids may attack lentils. I haven't found this in my garden, but that may be because the beans are starting to dry down by the time the aphids come out to play. Or maybe it's because I usually spread wood ash on the soil when I plant my lentils... I heard somewhere that aphid attractors often do better with a bit of lime on the soil... maybe wood ash is something like lime.



Here are some young lentil plants growing among my bread poppies (the larger, blue-green leaves). I love how delicate the lentil leaves are. These are 'green lentils' I got from my local Seed Library.


Not many people grow lentils anymore, so finding seed is apparently a challenge.... apparently. One place to find lentil seeds at a very affordable price is the grocery store. This is where I get most of my lentil seed, in the bulk food bin. Some of them grow very well here, others take a year or two to acclimate to our weather. Not as high a germination rate or quality as one expects from a seed company, but the savings makes up for it.

Saltspring seeds has lentil seeds for sale. These seeds are acclimatized to growing on the west coast, with our cool, wet winter, and dry summers.





In the kitchen, many people find these to be the easiest to digest of all the pulses. People on low fibre diets, can often tolerate adding a small amount of lentils to their diet.

I would like to know more about growing lentils, especially easier ways to harvest them. I've tried a lot of thrashing, but the pods won't always release their treasures. Qute often, I end up popping them out by hand.

I'm also eager to learn more recipes for cooking lentils. I often find them quite bitter, but would love to fall in love with this crop. As it is, I usually just grow them because they are great at adding nitrogen to the soil.
 
R Scott
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Bitter taste is probably from the soil, too high or low in something. They would make fine animal feed.

There are lots of crops I would like to grow but can't figure out a homestead scale way to harvest them.
 
r ranson
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R Scott wrote:Bitter taste is probably from the soil, too high or low in something. They would make fine animal feed.


That makes sense. The bitter taste is only in the lentils I've bought. So far, the ones grown at home seem to be sweater.

Lentils seem to be pretty easy to grow and have good timing for me too. They are planted fairly early in the spring, and come ready just about the time I'm planting my winter veg. If I follow the lentils with kale and chard, then the greens seem to grow better.

It's just the thrashing I'm having trouble with. I read recently that it works well to have a thrashing box, where you step on the dry pods, and it will release the lovely lentils. I think I would like to try that this year.
 
R Scott
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Thrashing and dehulling are my kryptonite.
 
r ranson
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R Scott wrote:Thrashing and dehulling are my kryptonite.


Me too.

I figure with staple crops, it's unlikely that our ancestors put more energy into processing them then they got from eating them. So, there must be an easier way to do this. I keep trying different ideas, and seeking inspiration. It is my hope that someone here can suggest something new to try. Or perhaps a modification on an old way.
 
r ranson
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Something I really like about lentils, is that they don't grow very tall. We started a 'hedge fund' aka, a hedgerow to keep the neighbours from... sigh, you know That kind of neighbour... anyway, planted all these young trees and wanted to stop the massive big weeds from growing in the loose soil around the trees. So we planted chickpeas and lentils. The lentils did best and helped add nitrogen to the soil for the trees. We left the lentils to die down as mulch and self seed. I'm quite pleased with it, and think I'll use lentils when transplanting trees in the future.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I thought that I was going to stay out of the lentil discussion, because I haven't grown them to maturity, however I may have some insight on harvesting seed.

My typical strategy for harvesting seeds is to toss the plants onto a tarp, let them dry completely, and then walk on them or beat them with a stick or piece of pipe. If PVC pipe is too light, then I use a piece of thick walled steel.

I notice significant differences in how tightly different varieties of the same species are held in the pods. So, as a small-scale farmer that harvests seeds only by hand, I end up selecting, both consciously and unconsciously, for a population that is easy to thresh.

Then, once the pods are threshed, I screen, then winnow. I usually end up sorting to remove pebbles, so I take care during harvest and threshing to not introduce dirt into the process.
 
Rebecca Norman
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We planted one of our gardens to lentils one spring, but the local partridges loved them, and we didn't get any plants at all. We strung out all sorts of old video tape and ended up with a complicated web of brown plastic skinny garbage all around the whole area. Didn't bother the partridges a bit.
 
r ranson
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Rebecca Norman wrote:We planted one of our gardens to lentils one spring, but the local partridges loved them, and we didn't get any plants at all. We strung out all sorts of old video tape and ended up with a complicated web of brown plastic skinny garbage all around the whole area. Didn't bother the partridges a bit.


That's too bad. I don't know much about partridges, except that my grandparents found them delicious.

The local farm that grows grain and lentils has a lot of problem with wildlife eating their crop, especially the wild geese. It's so bad that they are demanding a cull or there will stop producing local grains and lentils - with the pro-local-food movement being so strong here, we got a goose cull. I was surprised when I found this out because I grow the same crops and have almost no problem with the wild life. In fact, we have one pair of wild geese that comes every year and defends our chickens during the winter.

Talking with this farmer, I discovered they plant their grains and lentils at a very different time of year to me. They plant their grain and the grain comes ripe at the two times of year when we have the most grain/pulse eating migratory birds. I plant mine about a month earlier, so that the grain is growing before the birds pass through so they don't eat the seeds. My crop comes ready a few weeks earlier when the birds have better tasting wild food to eat.

I don't know if it would work for partridges, but it might be a thought to try planting the crops at different times of year to see if it makes a difference.
 
Tobias Ber
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hey... i don t know much about lentils n stuff. in northern germany there s a saying (when a person eats REALLY much): he is eating like a barn-tresher (like a person who does the treshing with a wooden flail in winter in the barns). so it has to be a very energy-consuming task.

i remember that there are treshing devices mentioned in the bible. they had lots of lentils and grains back then.

isaiah 28,27: Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick.

so they used sledges and wheels back then for the hard ones and sticks for the softer ones.

Isiah 41, 15 15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.
it s a picture meaning something else... but it looks like a device that cuts and threshes at the same time.

5 mose 25, 4 “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain."

so they were using oxen to thresh. how did they do it? did they let the animals trample on the grain? or did they yoke the oxen to a beam fastened to a pole, so the the oxen would walk around in a circle with a wheel-like-mill-stone-thing rolling over the grains?






what could work: use a plastic bucket with lid. cut hole in center of lid. get one of these paint-quirly-things. attach something blunt to it. put that into the bucket with the grains. put the shaft of the quirly-thing through the hole. attach electric-drill-machine.
i ve seen a video of a device like this with blades to chop straw for cob-building. so it might work.
 
Paul Ladendorf
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:beat them with a stick


My parents must have thought I was a lentil when I was a kid.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau R Ranson,

the way I thresh our lentils is on an old rock tumbler set up.
I got a heavy plastic pail with a lid that fit the rollers then screwed some 1x2 and 1x3 material on the inside (length of the pail from top to bottom).
Pour in the pods, snap the lid in place and turn on the machine for a while.
If the pods are not breaking open I add a few small, hard rubber balls (found at a hobby lobby store).
The combination of balls and the inside paddles does the trick.
Being to busy to hand thresh, I find this method works great and I am free to go do other things on the farm that have to get done.
A bucket us usually finished and ready for winnowing within an hour.
I save them up for a winnowing session when the winds come up.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Thank you for starting this thread; I started growing lentils this year. I use a scoop in my daily seed cereal. I think I know of an unused tumbler so I am going to check into getting it.
 
Rue Barbie
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I'm growing lentils for the first time this year as part of cover crops. I used grocery store seed, and many of them have come up. They are not blooming yet. I was not planning on harvesting them, but now I might. I am mainly using them as a legume for soil improvement.

I've saved the seed of lots of things. I put whatever I'm harvesting into a box without seams (you can tape the bottom of a cardboard box) and just step on it till the particles are small. I then lightly toss it till the heavier particles (the seeds) drift to the bottom. Then I scoop off the lighter stuff on top before winnowing. On a windy day, I take appropriate sized bins/boxes outside and pour the remainder of chaff and seed from one box to another till most of the debris has blown off, and only seeds are left. I've done seeds smaller than lentils, so this should work well for those too. It would be lots of work if you had lots to process however.
 
Simone Gar
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So going to try this! Pretty plants too. I wonder what their vase life is?! Anyways, lots of lentils grown here in Alberta but probably sprayed to the hilt. We eat about 2kg per year. How much would I have to seed? Does one plants produce a lot of lentils?
I would try the supermarket ones first since they are produced in Canada and should work fine. 900g are $2.59 or so. That's a great price to do some research.

When are you seeding R Ranson?
 
r ranson
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I seeded mine about two or three weeks ago. But we don`t have real winter here like you do.

Basically, they go in just before, or around the same time as peas.
 
Kai Duby
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This thread inspired me to go out and buy some lentils to seed barren berms here at the lab. I bought a whole slurry of varieties from the black lentils to the french green lentils.

I didn't buy any red lentils since they're hulled but I did get some yellow lentils that may or may not be hulled. Has anyone tried planting hulled seed?

I'm also wondering whether inoculating them is worth the trouble.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Post Today 3:17:40 PM Subject: Growing Lentils
I didn't buy any red lentils since they're hulled but I did get some yellow lentils that may or may not be hulled. Has anyone tried planting hulled seed?

If they have a flat side the hulls have been removed. When the seed is split the germ usually dies. I planted the little French ones along the edge of my greenhouse where I have some soil stored and it gets some moisture. I figure it will enrich the soil for planting mix nest year and give me an observation trial. I plan to plant the common lentil with the dull green hull and yellow inside where I had wheat before and now has a mat of sour weed that seems to grow where there is low nitrogen.

I told Paul I did not have any money to send but I would send some of my hull-less pumpkin seeds. Try to save a few to plant in the greenhouse before they all get eaten.
 
r ranson
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When you guys say hull, are you referring to the skin of the lentil?
 
Hans Quistorff
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R Ranson wrote:When you guys say hull, are you referring to the skin of the lentil?
Yes!
 
r ranson
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Kai Duby wrote:This thread inspired me to go out and buy some lentils to seed barren berms here at the lab. I bought a whole slurry of varieties from the black lentils to the french green lentils.

I didn't buy any red lentils since they're hulled but I did get some yellow lentils that may or may not be hulled. Has anyone tried planting hulled seed?

I'm also wondering whether inoculating them is worth the trouble.


How are they doing?
 
Simone Gar
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I seeded lentils on Saturday. Can't wait to see what comes up, how well they do and (odd I know) how long the vase life is
 
Kai Duby
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R Ranson: The lentils are just sprouting up! It's looking like they're doing well on the berms.

At first I thought I could broadcast them and then rake them in lightly but the birds caught on to that fast. Instead, I soaked the seed overnight and planted them in shallow trenches, which seems to have reduced the mortality rate.

I've done a lot of polyculture mixes with them as well. I'm most excited about mixing them with the hulless oats and clover.

The biggest problem I've run into is that I just designated way too many lentils to planting so I end up planting a little too thickly. I'll either eat the rest or save them for a fall cover crop.

Do you know what the average time to maturity is for lentils? Could I plant another crop around the end of July and still harvest lentils toward the end of September?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Yesterday when I was walking through the garden, I saw a row of unrecognized Fabaceae. So I pulled a plant up and ate it.

The lentils are growing well!!!
 
r ranson
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Thanks for the update

Kai Duby wrote:
I've done a lot of polyculture mixes with them as well. I'm most excited about mixing them with the hulless oats and clover.


That sounds fantastic. I think I'll try that next spring.

Kai Duby wrote:
The biggest problem I've run into is that I just designated way too many lentils to planting so I end up planting a little too thickly. I'll either eat the rest or save them for a fall cover crop.

Do you know what the average time to maturity is for lentils? Could I plant another crop around the end of July and still harvest lentils toward the end of September?


Mine might be a bit thickly planted too... Maybe I'll thin them... probably not.

Summer planting lentils? the answer to that where you live will be different than where I am, so.. I don't know. I haven't tried a late planting. At first, I thought it wouldn't germinate during the summer due to the heat, but Seed to Seed says that Lentils germinate at a temperature ranging from 65-85F. It looks like it's the adult plants that don't like it too hot. I remember somewhere something about that flowers not setting if the temp is too hot... so maybe, like peas, a planting after summer solstice might just work. I say give it a try, and at the very least, you'll create mulch. If it works, you'll produce food and mulch.

Whatever you do, please keep us aprised of how it goes.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Kai Duby wrote:R Ranson: The lentils are just sprouting up! It's looking like they're doing well on the berms.

At first I thought I could broadcast them and then rake them in lightly but the birds caught on to that fast. Instead, I soaked the seed overnight and planted them in shallow trenches, which seems to have reduced the mortality rate.

I've done a lot of polyculture mixes with them as well. I'm most excited about mixing them with the hulless oats and clover.

The biggest problem I've run into is that I just designated way too many lentils to planting so I end up planting a little too thickly. I'll either eat the rest or save them for a fall cover crop.

Do you know what the average time to maturity is for lentils? Could I plant another crop around the end of July and still harvest lentils toward the end of September?


You can plant lentils quite thickly without a lot of loss from crowding as long as your soil is in good condition.
The plant to harvest time is 80- 110 days, you can get two harvests if you plant a spring crop and a fall crop, just be sure to have the second harvest come off before frost hits hard.
You can plant lentils with most crops just avoid garlic and onions as they will react in an allopathic way to the lentils.
 
Kai Duby
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Here are some pictures of the lentils coming up! I mixed them with hulless oat, white clover and daikon. They seem to be doing well despite being so packed together. They're actually some of the greenest stuff around. I keep waiting to see signs of stress but so far I haven't needed to thin them out.

IMG_0900.JPG
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Lentil Polyculture
IMG_0897.JPG
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Lentil Polyculture
 
r ranson
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That sounds like a really good mix. I like that idea, oats, clover, daikon, they all like to go in at the same time here. I might borrow that idea for next spring.
 
Simone Gar
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I need to take a picture of mine. I seeded heavily and covered with straw and they are coming up like crazy!
 
r ranson
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Here are some photos of my lentils over the last few weeks.

These are leftover brown lentils from my pantry. The seed/food came from a local farm, about 4 minutes drive from here. They are growing quite vigorously, especially considering this is the first time growing anything on this soil and it's receiving no irrigation or other amendments except human attention.



Ladybugs really like my lentils for some reason. That and the rye that is next to it. There're fava beans nearby, but I haven't seen any aphids or black fly on them yet. Now, if only ladybugs ate cabbage moth, then I'll be Happy Happy!



Lots of different crops on this new plot of land. I used the lentils more as a gap filler with the intention of transforming them into mulch about now. But the lentils seem joyful here, so I think I'll just keep them and harvest any seeds we might get... if they can survive the drought. I've been very impressed with this whole area.



This is my 'weed mulch'. Basically, whenever a weed is about to flower, I pull it up and put it upside down between the lentils. Also, if I am clearing a strip for planting new seeds and seedlings, I just use the weeds as mulch. It appears to be reducing soil evaporation, at the very least, it's keeping organic matter in situ, instead of feeding it to the chooks. The goal for this plot is not to bring any amendments and build the soil by just growing plants.

Of course, I needed somewhere to store the old animal bedding while it decomposes, so I'll probably add that to the soil in the fall. In the meantime, it is quail approved.



They are getting quite tame. We have about 40 wild quail hang out in this little plot of land, and more on the way as I think some of them have started sitting on eggs.
 
r ranson
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My lentil flowers are tiny this year. It might be the poor soil, or more likely the different variety.



compared with last year's lentil blossoms

 
Allison Fisher
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After trying many different ways of threshing, I've discovered the food processor works the fastest and easiest! I had first thought I'd use the blunt dough blade to thresh but it didn't do a thing. So I switched to the regular blade and cringed as I thought I'd get a bunch of little lentil pieces very quickly. It worked though and I got a quart threshed and winnowed very quickly.

Here are my lentils right now. About 2 cups intensively planted on a brand new hugelkultur.
Lentils.JPG
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lentil hugelkultur
 
Vera Stewart
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I scattered some green lentils in the back of my yard and then forgot about them, probably mowing most of them down. But I believe some have survived where the mower does not venture!
lentil.JPG
[Thumbnail for lentil.JPG]
 
Liz Gattry
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So this thread made me research lentils a bit. I eat them a lot, and had some dried lentils in my pantry- so I thought, hey I have a couple inches of cleared dirt between some cement and a fence that isn't doing too much, lentils seem like a pretty hardy plant lets try putting some there.

So I did and now I have a bunch of little lentil plants in that area. I'm not expecting much production out of them, but it's a productive ground cover for the area and much better than the foxtails that keep trying to grow there.

 
John Weiland
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Just adding this link to this thread as a re-bump:  https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/rowcrops/a1636.pdf
 
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