Since we’ve been talking about the worsening economy and growing more of your own food lately, I thought I would discuss a new-to-me garden crop that I am trying this year. It’s lentils.
I know that lentils were mentioned by that tone deaf liberal opinion piece by Bloomberg awhile back about eating less meat and taking the bus, but I’ve been using them in my cooking for a few years now, and I rather like them.
I like lentils mixed with split peas in pea n ham soup. I’ve found a recipe for a combo of wild rice and lentils as a side dish in the Instant pot, and I also tried a new recipe this year for an Indian curry inspired pumpkin and lentil soup. It’s all quite tasty and not worth ignoring this lovely food source just to spite snooty liberals.
Lentils are a good source of plant protein and dietary fiber and have been grown for thousands of years (8000 years per one source). Given my newfound taste for this hearty and healthy legume, I decided to try to grow them this year in my survival/pandemic/inflation garden. I know that they are still pretty cheap at the grocery store, but I wanted to try growing my own.
Lentils are apparently easy to grow. I guess if they’ve been around for 8000 years, it makes sense that they must be fairly low maintenance. But another advantage is that being legumes, lentils are nitrogen fixers which can help restore your garden soil after heavy feeders have been in that spot.
This is an important point to remember. If things continue further south economically, chemical fertilizers will not be easy to get or inexpensive when you can. Any trick that you can use to keep up soil fertility without the use of purchased fertilizer will be a plus (and may even make or break your crop). So remember that in addition to being nutritious, legumes like lentils take nitrogen from the air and put it back into the soil. Let them work for you if you have the space.
I planted mine from a bag of store lentils that I had opened in my pantry. All my research says that it’s fine (and easy) to do that. I put them in tubs of soil that last year had grown peppers (crop rotation, remember?). I also added a low jury-rigged “trellis” for them to climb (made out of reused stuff I had leftover from previous years), as apparently though short, they do like support.
My lentil plants are now about four inches tall. There’s fifteen or twenty of them between two tubs, but we’ll see how many survive to maturity. I’ll have to do an update in the fall when/if they make it to producing pods. I’m excited to see how this turns out. Yes, this is my life – I get excited about legumes. Get over it.
To balance out the snotty liberal piece about lentils I thought I’d leave you with a different take. It involves the Greek philosopher Diogenes and lentils – here ya go.