The Lentils, or Not

I sometimes ponder the advantages and disadvantages of having to drive or ride my bicycle the 1.33 miles or 2.15 kilometers from our front door to our garden plot. On the one hand, we can actually get to it. I’m grateful for the access and mobility I have. On the other hand, at this time of year not all visits are leisurely. I don’t always have the gift of unhurried attention. Too often there’s a brief stop to do the quick, few tasks on a list and then rushing reluctantly off to work or the other, next important thing. If the garden were just outside my back door I could spend an hour or hours over it daily, but that’s not the case. And so it was that I lost track of the lentils.

 Lentils

One of this year’s “experimental” crops was lentils. We eat a fair amount of these little legumes and when I realized we had a hefty supply of seed in the cupboard I decided to give them a go. Months later I can only say, “Well, that didn’t work.”

The plants flourished (literally) so I was anticipating success. But over time I sort of lost track of them amidst the onion woes, garlic harvest, broccoligasm, and so on. Today I finally took a really good look at the small patch and was excited to see the number of pods! I pinched one. It was empty. Most of them were. There was an abundance of empty pods but I couldn’t find any lentils on the ground. A few pods had what felt like a hard seed inside, but they were green and/or tiny. Either most of the lentils never developed or fell to the ground to be consumed by someone other than me before I could get them.

So it goes in agriculture. You take your chances and sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. It pays to diversify, by the way.

I’ve got some fall seedlings started—Chinese cabbage for one. I’ll likely chop off  the lentil plants when the cabbage is ready to transplant and plug it in there. They at least should have fixed some nitrogen into the soil which will be helpful for a leafy crop. In the meantime I’ve made a mental note to try to allow enough time every time I visit the garden to look at every single crop and see how it’s doing. That may or may not have made a difference in the lentil experiment, but it’s probably a good practice to cultivate until I can just step outside the back door to check on the garden.

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In Which It Takes Me a Moment

Over at 2 Boys 1 Homestead, a blog I’ve recently started following, Ben mentioned a few days ago that he is considering growing a patch of lentils. I’ve wanted to try growing my own for a while so they have come and gone from the forefront of my attention over the years. This mention so soon after my call for nominations of fun new crops to grow in 2015 got me thinking about them again. I like lentils. There are a handful of recipes I turn to again and again when we’re having a Bollywood night that call for lentils. My main concern, apart from the question of whether they’ll even grow and mature here, is that their yield per given unit of area might be on the low side. Still, I moved them to the front of the line for trying this season. Then I thought where am I ever going to find seeds for them? Better start googling.

If you laughed at that last bit you’re faster than I am.

Sprouted Lentils

I have a bag of lentil seeds, a.k.a. lentils in the pantry! The only thing left was to test them to see if they will germinate. They did. They were also delicious. I’d forgotten how good lentil sprouts are.

It’s ironic it took me this long to think of lentils given that during my recent seed testing bout I tried everything I could think of from the spice cupboard including anise, cardamom and mustard but I never made it over to the pantry where the legumes live. Now that I know I’ve got some viable lentil seeds and that they’re a variety I like I’m closer to allocating a small area of the garden to giving them a go.