Best Steps To Grow Lentils In Containers
If you have only ever grown the green varieties of members of the bean family, it may be time to try growing lentils (Lens culinaris Medik.).
Lentils are not only simple to cultivate but also to store for later, allowing you to take advantage of your green thumb for a tasty pot of winter stew.
Growing lentils in containers is a hobby you can start early in the growing season because they are an annual crop and prefer cooler conditions.
History & Origin Lentils
Lentils have been nourishing our ancestors since prehistoric times and are believed to have their origins in the Near East or the Mediterranean region.
They are one of the first domesticated crops and the oldest pulse crop known to man.
The word lentil is derived from the Latin word lens, and this bean cousin resembles the double convex optic lens that gave the lentil its name.
Lentil artifacts from 8,000 B.C. and earlier have been discovered on archeological digs on the Euphrates River's banks.
There is also proof that the Egyptians, Romans, and Hebrews consumed this legume. The Bible also mentions lentils; one instance is in the narrative of Esau, who gave up, found in the book of Genesis.
The plant has numerous ascending branches and grows between 15 and 45 cm (6 and 18 inches).
Six pairs of oblong linear leaflets, each about 15 mm (0.5 inches) long and ending in a spine, make up the alternating compound leaves.
Two to four light blue flowers appear in the leaf axils in early July or June. Two seeds in the shape of a double convex lens measuring around 4-6 mm (0.17-0.24 inch) in diameter are contained in the little pods, which are broadly oblong and slightly inflated.
There are numerous cultivated varieties of the plant, each with unique leaves, blooms, and seeds that vary in size, hairiness, and colour.
The seeds can be white, yellow, orange, tan, green, gray, or dark brown; they can also occasionally be mottled or speckled. The form of the seeds can be more or less compressed.
Types Of Lentils
One of today's most nutrient-dense foods is lentils. However, there are numerous varieties of lentils, some of which you may not be familiar with.
Knowing your lentils can help you choose the one that will work best for your dish. In addition, you'll learn more about how they differ from one another and their nutritional value.
So, let's review the lentil varieties in this blog post. You will also see pictures of these lentils to recognize them immediately.
To grow lentils in containers, you should know the best varieties.
1. Brown Lentils
The most well-known and frequently used lentils you may have previously encountered are brown ones.
From khaki brown to very dark brown, their distinctive hue is brown. Since they are smaller than most varieties of lentils, they cook more quickly.
The flavour is undoubtedly what sets brown lentils distinct from other varieties. These lentils are notably mild and earthy.
Because of the tasty flavour, people enjoy including them in soups, stews, salads, vegetarian burgers or meatballs, casseroles and vegan dishes.
2. Red Lentils
Red lentils, often called Egyptian or split lentils, comprise several subtypes that come in various hues, including pink, yellow, and, most frequently, orange.
They are all sweet and nutty and go well with hearty soups, stews, curries, dipping sauces, etc.
When cooked, red lentils lose shape, so keep that in mind. They can quickly get overcooked and mushy since they have a softer texture than most other varieties of lentils.
Making red lentil soup, a famous soup in Sudanese cuisine, is another way to use red lentils to make the tastiest Sudanese foods ever! They are great for thickening light meals because of their mushy texture.
3. Black Lentils
Do you know that the most expensive and rarest variety of lentils is black? They are also nutrient-dense lentils with a lot of protein.
They could resemble small black tapioca or black caviar in appearance. As a result, they are also known as Beluga caviar.
Many fantastic foods contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that fight infections, inflammation, and cancer. The dark hue of black lentils is also a result of this chemical.
Black lentils have a strong earthy flavour and a fantastic consistency after being boiled, making them ideal for salads and side dishes.
You might need more time to cook these lentils, though. You should also soak the seeds for a few hours before cooking them to soften them.
4. Green Lentils
The Le Puy lentil variety on this list is the green variety. They are predominantly light green, ranging from khaki to brilliant green, or a green-slate tint with a tinge of blue or black.
They also feature a unique flat form that resembles tiny discs. When you consume green lentils, you can taste their mildly nutty, earthy flavour with a peppery undertone.
They are incredibly rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. After being cooked, green lentils have a nice consistency and may be used in many different cuisines.
Additionally, it has an adaptable flavour that works best when added to salads, soups, and side dishes. Green lentils that have been boiled provide a tasty and nutritious bite-sized snack.
5. Puy Lentils
Le Puy, where they were initially harvested, is where Puy lentils acquired their name. They are remarkable in consistency.
They are hard, firm beans that keep their shape nicely when cooked. When eating this kind of lentil, you can detect a peppery flavour.
Puy lentils are much smaller and darker than traditional green ones, which you may notice if you compare the two.
Additionally, they are more expensive and rarer than regular green types. Puy lentils are a great way to spice up your salads!
To give the salad a nice texture. Another intriguing fact is that you can speed up the cooking of lentils by using a pressure cooker.
6. Mountain Lentils
There isn't a variety of mountain lentils. They are more of a collection of various lentils that, as the name implies, are cultivated in various mountainous areas. They are all grown at altitudes of at least 700 meters.
Contrary to popular belief, red and yellow lentils do not have their variety. They are both peeled brown lentils, frequently listed as mountain ones. The core, not the skin, is where the colour difference exists.
Grow Lentils In Containers
Location Grow Lentils In Containers
Containers are frequently used to grow lentils along with garden beds. However, immature crops need to be shielded from the wind and frost.
Pick a spot that receives full sun and some protection from strong winds—growing as branching vines and lentil plants. They spread out quickly and require a large area. For support and adequate airflow, the plants need a low trellis.
Choose The Right Container
To allow for proper root development, use a container at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep if you decide to put your lentils in one.
Soil To Grow Lentils In Containers
Place them next to low-lying plants to prevent the lentils from being obscured. To prevent the roots from becoming damaged, keep the soil moist but avoid letting any water collect on the surface.
To allow for proper root development, use a container at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep if you decide to put your lentils in one.
Get a simple pH test at the garden center if you are worried about the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. In the pH range of 6.0 to 6.5, lentils thrive.
Temperature & Weather
In the early spring, sow seeds. March's chilly, crisp weather is ideal for lentil growth. They then mature during the sweltering summertime.
When you plant, the ground temperature must be at least 40° Fahrenheit (4° Celsius) to keep your seeds alive.
After planting, you shouldn't be alarmed if there is a frost because most seedlings will survive it, even if they have to start again at the roots.
Lentils can also be grown inside if you want more adaptable growing alternatives, provided the ambient temperature is roughly 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius).
Some individuals use indoor garden lighting to maintain a constant temperature during the colder months.
Lentils do best when grown in a whole light. For optimum development, aim for 8 hours per day of healthy sunlight. When the soil is warm, but the temperature is cool, lentils grow best.
Although they can be cultivated in milder climates, they usually perform at their peak once it becomes pleasant outside.
Even though these plants can withstand heat, they occasionally produce less if the temperature rises too high. Long durations over 90°F can dramatically limit the size of the harvest.
Water & Humidity
The minimum requirement for your lentils is one inch of water every week. They could like a little extra during warmer weather.
The best time to water is in the morning because the day's warmth will help any damp leaves to dry out.
Instead of soaking down the foliage, try to water it at the soil level. Stop watering as the pods start to dry up. It also weakens the lentil plant, making it easier to harvest later.
This enables the pods to dry out correctly. Several illnesses that affect growing plants are more prevalent in humid environments.
A 30% to 40% lower humidity range is almost optimum for these plants. Many regions of the world use drier seasons to cultivate their flora.
How To Plant
Before planting Lens culinaris, the seeds need to be injected with Rhizobium leguminosarum, a naturally occurring bacteria.
This rhizobacterium will attach to the developing roots and take nitrogen from the air, transferring it to the roots and soil and promoting a more vigorous growth of the plants.
Inoculated plants might, therefore, be excellent nitrogen fixers in your garden.
On the day of planting, inoculate the seeds. The seeds should be wet before being thoroughly coated with the inoculant powder.
The seed should be sown right after being coated in starter pots or the ground. It's usually ideal for spreading seeds approximately one inch deep.
The seedlings should be separated by 5 inches as soon as they appear, with only the strongest ones being kept.
When working with many rows, ensure they are at least 18 inches apart. Germination should take about 10 days in soil around 68°F.
Plants started in containers should be trimmed to the strongest seedlings and spaced at least 5″ apart. Place it in the transplant at the same depth as in the container.
Lentils adhere to the exact requirements of beans, peas, or other legumes, unlike many plants dependent on nitrogen.
After germination, when they have their most significant need for nitrogen, the inoculant you gave them can provide that need to 80%.
As a result, your fertilizers should concentrate more on phosphorus and potassium.
While potassium is essential and is highly needed for blooming and pod development, phosphorus is a comparatively high requirement for proper root development.
When growing lentils, begin with soil rich in organic matter. This should give you the nitrogen you require right away.
Then, as the lentil plants grow, you can add an organic granular fertilizer with a low N and high P&K ratio. For the season, one or two fertilizer applications should be sufficient.
Be cautious and use organic sources over crystalline ones. Salts of all kinds can readily burn the roots of lentils since they are sensitive to them.
Your lentils may also benefit from sulphur as extra nutrition. The seedlings can take up the PK fertilizers a little bit better if a modest amount of sulphur is applied along with your first feeding.
Be cautious that your soil may not truly need the sulphur if it is alkaline because it may already have it.
Lens culinaris don't require pruning during the growing season. A few situations are an exception to this rule.
One is removing contaminated material to stop the disease or pest from spreading. Another is allowing densely populated foliage to receive airflow.
They must be trained to a trellis, which frequently eliminates the need for pruning to open up the plant, but this is still necessary.
Even while they will climb independently, plant ties can help strengthen the stem's connection to the trellis and provide additional support.
The simplest way to grow lentils is from seed. Since these annuals will grow rapidly from seed, it is uncommon to need to employ any other technique.
After being infected following our above planting instructions, lentil seeds should be planted 1″ deep.
You can choose not to administer the fertilizer, but the lentils require additional nitrogen fertilizer. Our advice is to vaccinate your seeds before planting them.
Pests And Diseases Of Lentils
Various pests can harm your lentils, but these problems often don't have a significant negative impact.
However, you still need to take action to lessen the insect population in your garden. Aphids and thrips, two sucking pests, are opportunistic pests on lentils.
They prefer juicy prey, but will settle for your vines' foliage if they can get it.
Thrips are frequently found on flowers, and yellow speckling on foliage signifies that aphids are hidden on the underside.
With regular application of neem oil to all foliage, top and underside alike, both populations can be significantly decreased.
The roots of your legumes are delicious to the larvae of this click beetle, which reside in the soil and consume organic materials.
Beneficial nematodes or pyrethrin spray might be used to treat them. Crop rotation will also lessen their likelihood of appearing.
Fusarium root rot and Rhizoctonia root rot are the two types of root rot that affect lentils the most. Both are brought on by fungi found in soil.
MycoStop, a bio-fungicide, is being applied with some success against fusarium but with marginally less success against Rhizoctonia.
Harvesting & Storing Of Lentil
Lentil harvesting is a relatively straightforward procedure. Put an end to watering the plants once the pods start to dry.
Pull the vines out and remove the pods after letting them dry completely. You can add the vines to your compost pile to decompose there.
The seeds must then be taken out of their pods and laid out on a tray in a cool, dry area to complete drying. It's straightforward to store your dried lentils.
Keep them in a cupboard that is dark and sealed. Any moisture that may still be present in the container can be reduced by adding a desiccant packet made for use with food.
They can stay for quite a while if kept dry, although it is better to use them within a year of harvest.
Superfood lentils can significantly increase your protein intake. Fortunately for would-be gardeners, they are also simple to grow and care for.
Start with high-quality lentils or seeds. Grow lentils in containers with plenty of sunlight and water. They should be ready to harvest in about 100 days if all goes well.
I trust you enjoyed this article on the Best Steps To Grow Lentils In Containers. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
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