It’s a perfect year to shout out for heirloom legumes…
Happy 2016, everyone! As we’ve turned the calendar from 2015 and said goodbye to the U.N.’s International Year of the Soils (news flash: we live a soil-first life here at 8th & Bee), we say hello to the International Year of the Pulses. Get the full scoop and U.N. declaration at the U.N. Food and Agriculture’s and Global Pulse Confederation sites.
Wait, What’s a….Pulse?!?
In a nutshell, pulses include the families of beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. They’re high in protein, more water efficient than other crops, and get extra bonus points for being nitrogen-fixing plants that help improve soil health.
Ready to Plant Some Pulses?
Technically, pulses are limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain. So growing beans and peas as vegetables for cooking and salads technically don’t qualify. But we’re big fans of the idea that we eat what we sow, so we’re willing to bend the definition a little if it gets you thinking about future legumes-to-be in your garden.
Most legumes require warm, dry soil, so we’re still early to be sowing ‘em directly into the ground. We’ll come back to this topic throughout the year, season by season (including the first glimpse we get of Spring warmth) to keep you in the Year of Pulses spirit.
You still have a couple of options here in the dead of winter to get a head start. You’ll need to do the maths and calculate the best timing for your location and climate:
You can start lentils indoors and plant as early as 2-3 weeks before the last frost of the season. They take about 10 days to germinate and harvest in 80-110 days.
Late Winter Companion Plants: Potatoes
Chickpeas (AKA Garbanzo Beans)
Also good to put in the garden early (about 3-4 weeks before last frost) as they have a long growing season. Plant indoors in paper or peat pots, which you can plant directly into the ground. 10-14 days germination time and 90-100 days to harvest.
Late Winter Companion Plants: Potatoes, strawberries, celery
Peas like cooler temperatures, but not cold, overly moist soil. Also sow about 3-4 weeks before last frost. You can start them in containers or seed trays in warmer temps. Germination in about 10 days, harvest in 70-80 days.
Late Winter Companion Plants: Spinach, Radish
Beans will have to wait until the ghost of winter frost has left the building (they’re not as keen toward being transplanted), so we’ll save that for a future post.
Legumes represent some of the best of the best of biodiversity. Let’s all grow a few interesting legumes, this year, protect our heirloom seed heritage and celebrate a fab Year of Pulses!