23 July 2015

New harvests

I'm growing lentils this year and the time has come to harvest my first crop. Last year I tried growing them outside and every last plant was eaten by rabbits. This year I grew them in the greenhouse for a bit more protection.

I've been doing some research to find out the best way of processing the crop, and it seems that pulling the entire plant and leaving it to dry for a few days is the best approach. Then I should be able to thresh the plants by putting them in a pillowcase and bashing them about a bit, before separating the lentils from the straw.

Out of curiosity, I broke open a few of the pods to see what the lentils look like. The variety is Le Puy, which is the famous lentil grown in that region of France. There, they grow in a volcanic soil which gives them a unique flavour and in the European Union you can only call a lentil a Le Puy lentil if it is grown in that region. I suppose those types of rules don't apply outside the EU, but I don't know what you're supposed to call a Le Puy lentil if you grow it somewhere else! They are an interesting colour: basically green, but with blue marbling on them.

The other crops I've been researching harvesting techniques for are those in my 'grain patch' for this year. These are also new for me. From right to left in the picture below are: hull-less oats, Sangatsuga barley and Red Fife wheat. There's quite a bit of hop-clover growing underneath them, which I've left there, as it adds nitrogen to the soil and I don't think is doing the grains any harm.

These aren't ready to harvest yet, but they are definitely changing colour. Here they are in more detail - the oats:

The barley:

And the wheat:

My plan for these so far is to save the grain and sow a bigger patch next year, with the eventual aim of using it as feed for the chickens. Or maybe even eating it ourselves!


Lisa from Iroquois said...

How do you process the grains for the chickens? Can you also put them in a pillow case and beat them to break the casings off the seed heads?

Amanda Hill said...

Hi Lisa - I've see a few ways of doing it, from stamping on the grains in a wooden box with raised slats, to the pillowcase trick, followed by wind- or fan-winnowing. I will probably try the pillowcase method first.

Susie said...

Ooh, lentils, that's great! Not sure I've ever seen them growing before. Might have to try some myself next year.

Dave @ OurHappyAcres said...

It's really interesting to see these crops growing! I'm a big fan of Red Fife wheat, and I bought some of the grain to grind into flour for bread. And I have never seen lentils growing, so that is really neat to see.