Lentil, from seed to harvest

Lentil plants growing in a vegetable patch, with pods ready for the harvest

Known and renowned for its nutritional properties, lentil is an annual plant that is a cinch to grow in the garden.

Little Lentil facts list

Name – Lens esculenta or culinaris
Family – Fabaceae
Type – annual

Height – 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, or even sandy

Harvest – July before it has matured completely

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Sowing lentil

Green, red and even pink lentil, there are a great number of lentil varieties but they all share the same growing steps. These are similar to other plants of the bean family.

If you wish to grow a AOC-label variety, opt for the ‘Verte du Puy’ lentil. For Red Label varieties, go for the ‘Berry’ or the ‘Blonde de Saint Flour’ varieties.

Lentil sowing season

Lentil is sown in the plot directly in seed holes in spring and is harvested in summer.

Sprouting is quite swift, since it takes place about 10 days after sowing.

Spacing lentil seeds

This depends on the lentil variety.

  • Space your sowing seed holes by 14 inches (35 cm) on all sides.
  • Run the hoe along after sprouting to avoid letting weeds invade your sowing.

The lentil is part of the same family as broad beans, beans and peas.

Growing and caring for lentil

Lentil is easy to grow and care for, the only compulsory task is to hoe the soil on a regular basis because it loathes weeds.

Lentil sprouts can be ridged when they reach a height of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm), this will increase their root system and they will stand more upright when heavy with seed.

  • Without the ridging, lentil risks collapsing in case of rain and wind.

growing lentilLentil doesn’t require fertilizer nor must the soil be amended.

Lentil also doesn’t require regular watering, and in particular only needs water in case of extended dry spell.

Excess water would tend to lead to more leaves growing instead of flowers, so you would have less seeds.

At the end of the harvest, you can pull out the plants and mix them into the earth, because lentil doesn’t grow back from one year to the next.

Harvesting the lentils

lentilThe average productivity of lentil is about 5½ oz (150 g) per sq. yard (m²). So since we can plant about 10 to 12 specimens to a square yard (1 m²), the average productivity of a single lentil plant is ½ oz (15 g).

One might say that producing lentils requires a great many plants in order to gather a significant harvest!

How can one determine when the right time to harvest lentils is, to ensure that they’re neither too ripe nor too young?

  • We harvest lentil at the beginning of summer.
  • The stems are cut before they’re completely mature.
  • The stems are set in a dry and ventilated place, preferably head down, to ripen.

Keeping lentils

Lentil seeds keep for much longer when they are still in their pods.

It’s thus best to keep them in their pods and collect them only as you need them.

But lentil seeds can still be kept for several months in a dry spot, preferably in an airtight jar such as a mason jar.

Lentil doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator.

Diseases and parasites that attack lentils

The main diseases that impact lentil are:

The best treatment against these diseases is to spray Bordeaux mixture preventively and routinely when the weather is warm and moist (for example, after it rains in summer).

As for parasites, you’ll possibly discover aphids and slugs.

Smart tip about lentils

Dried lentil seeds are recommended for their proteins, fibers and minerals that they provide.