Planting Lentils: Everything You Need to Know
The small protein suppliers can easily be planted in the garden. We reveal what you should consider when growing lentils.
Lentils ( Lens culinaris ) are actually every gardener’s dream. They taste good, are easy to grow, and also improve the soil. So there are enough reasons to grow it. What more do you want?
Their reputation as poor people’s food preceded lentils for a long time. It is probably not justified, considering all the positive properties that the lenses have. But it stems from the fact that lentils also grow where other cultures find it difficult to thrive. Until not so long ago large parts of the population still lived from agriculture, the lentil-growing regions were accordingly the areas with poor soils and great poverty. Lenses were often a welcome rescue here.
When to plant lentils
Plant your lentil in the spring. Since the seeds can germinate from around 4 ° C, sowing at the end of April or beginning of May is ideal. In the warm Mediterranean region, the lens can even be used in autumn, because it can survive temperatures as low as -9 ° C. In German-speaking countries, however, the cultivation time is limited to spring and summer.
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Where to plant lentils?
Lentils thrive particularly well on calcareous soils. It is not for nothing that the lentil was grown in Germany mainly on the shell limestone of the Swabian Alb, in the Eifel, and Franconia. Chalky marl, sand, or crushed stone are suitable as soil. Too much nutrient-rich soil is even more detrimental. This is exactly the strength of the lens: it grows where other crops can no longer be grown. In terms of climate, the lens likes it sunny, warm, and dry.
Planting lentils: the right approach
Before you start growing, you should first be clear about the type of lens you choose, as there are definitely differences between the various lenses. Once you have found a suitable variety, you can start growing. Since lentils are not particularly stable but like to lean on other plants, it can make sense to plant some grain such as oats or barley between the lentils. This means that the lens does not bend over so quickly. If you are sowing the lentil or lentil-grain mixture in the spring, you should plant the lentil about four to five centimeters into the soil.
Once the plants have started to germinate, you can basically watch them until late summer and twiddle your thumbs during this time. The plants get by with little water and fertilization is also very uncomplicated. Only the harvest will be exciting again because lentils ripen from bottom to top. You can start harvesting as soon as the lentil grains are hard and the pods on the lower part of the plant have turned brown. However, since the lentils are not all ripe at the same time, the harvest is quite laborious – you always have to reapply. To get them out of the sleeves, you can rub them wrapped in a cloth, for example. A sieve is best suited for the laborious cleaning of the lenses.
If you do not want to do without lentils in the coming year, then you should choose a different location in the garden for the cultivation, because lentils are not self-compatible. You should wait four to six years before planting a lentil in the same place again.
Planting lentils summary:
- Calcareous soil
- Keep a distance of 4 to 6 years
- Sow mixed with grain between April and early May
- Sowing depth: about 5 cm
- Harvest in late summer when the bottom pods are brown and the lentil seeds are hard
If you have not yet been able to decide on the right type of lentil for your garden, you will definitely find it in our variety article.