Protein; it’s a staple of a basic diet but many people share the common belief that it can only be obtained from meat-based foods and animal-derived products. On the contrary, beans and lentils are a rich source of protein and are considered to be an important part of the vegan diet. So, if you’re looking to grow some protein at home and don’t want to start a chicken farm right away, why not grow some lentils? These are annual crops that grow better when planted in cooler seasons. Here’s what you need to know before you can grow your lentil plants.
Obviously, a single plant won’t nearly be enough and you’ll need around 5 to 8 of them if you want almost a yearly’s supply for a single person. The number of plants you’ll need also depends on your intake and if you lean more towards plant-based nutrition, it’s likely you’ll need more of them.
You can grow lentils in your garden, or if you’ve run out of space in your backyard, you can grow them straight out of pots. As long as the pots are thoroughly cleaned before planting, and have a height of over 8 inches, you’re all set. To prepare, you’ll need to make sure whether they’re treated with an inoculant or not. If they are, then you can move on to the next steps. If they’re not, then spread your seeds over a wide tray and apply some leguminosarum inoculant on them. Wait a whole 24 hours until you plant them; this helps the seeds prepare to absorb nitrogen.
Add loose soil and compost to a pot, and check the pH. Lentils like to keep it basic, so a pH of around 6.5 is preferred. Add a supporting structure to each pot, such as a trellis. Remember that one pot is only supposed to hold a single plant. Plant a few seeds one inch under the soil and keep the soil watered adequately, but not too much. Waterlogged soil has the risk of killing lentil plants, so stay on the drier side and give them plenty of sunshine. Soon, in each pot, you’ll begin to see growths rising upwards. Then, cut off the weaker plants and keep the stronger ones. While doing so, be careful not to damage or disturb the stem or root of the plant you wants to keep.
You’ll need to train your plants to rise upwards i.e. up to the trellis. To do this, you can give a little help by tying a loose thread around the trellis and stem of the plant. Once the plants achieve a height of around 5 inches, remember to add some compost every now and then because lentils love nutrient-rich soil.
Harvest your yield after the plants turn yellow and ripen. You can use some garden shears or hand pruners to chop off the pods, or you can cut the entire plant from the stem. Be careful of aphids attacking your plants, so use some organic insecticide and cleaning up well after the plant.