How to grow lentils

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Lentils are annual plants producing lens-shaped seeds. A cousin of the bean, the lentil belongs to the legume family, or those with seeds that grow within pods. Lentils are quite rich in iron and have the highest levels of protein of any vegetable next to soybeans. Once you know the right soil and climate conditions you can grow your own lentils.

Test your soil with a soil pH tester. Lentils grow best at a soil pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

Find the best location to plant. Lentils grow best on level or slightly rolling land, which drains well.

Sow your seedlings using a garden spade early in spring. Work the soil while moist and when the soil is warm enough to stimulate germination.

Plant seedlings 25 to 40 mm (1 to 1 1/2 inches) deep in moist, but not wet, soil. You can plant them a bit deeper in well-draining soil.

Watch your lentil plants grow. On average they reach 30 to 75 cm (1 to 2 1/2 feet) high, with pods that usually hold two lentil seeds each.

Harvest them around mid-July when seeds mature and your soil dries. Lentils are drought tolerant and can grow under fairly dry conditions, although they do require a minimum of 15 cm (6 inches) of rain or watering during the entire growing season.

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