Whether you grow your plants for food or other reasons, dal seeds will grow. Offering unique tastes and interests in the countryside, have a suitable location. With little care of dal, the plant is easy to grow Pigeon peas.
What is Pigeon Peas?
Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), also known as Congo or Ganga pea, native to Asia, grows in many warm and tropical regions around the world.
This short-lived perennial can actually grow into a small shrub tree and make a great low hedge or windbreak.
Pigeon pea seeds contain high amounts of protein and three important amino acids: lysine, tryptophan and methionine. In India, peas are mixed with lentils to make a popular soup. People in the Dominican Republic and Hawaii grow canned seeds. Pigeon peas taste nutty and cereal.
How to grow Pigeon peas
Dal are tough little plants that thrive in dry, poor soil and high temperatures.
That’s the way it is. While they can survive these conditions, they will be more abundant and healthier if you give them better resources.
If possible, start with well-drained soil and plant in full sun. As mentioned, the ideal pH is between 5.0 and 7.0, although they do well in alkaline soils with pH up to 8.0, if any. Dal will adapt! If you’re not sure what the pH of your soil is, do a soil test.
Also – which is refreshing considering how much yield a plant produces in a season – no fertilization is required.
Too much nutrients can lead to excess foliage on the beans, and the plants don’t actually need supplemental fertilizer to thrive.
The first few weeks after the seeds germinate are important. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not wet and that the area is free of weeds.
Plants take up to a month to grow, and they’re easier to do when they’re not competing for nutrients, water, or most importantly, sunlight.
Don’t worry, once they’re around 15cm, they pick up speed, spread and grow vigorously, reaching 10cm per week.
At this point, you can take care of these plants more easily. You don’t need to fuss.
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Plant in full sun for best results.
Grow in well-drained soil. They cannot survive in swampy, wet environments.
Weeding is usually done in the first few weeks after germination due to slow plant growth.
Pruning and Maintenance
If you want, once the plants are a few feet tall, you can prune the stems for productivity, but don’t prune too much.
Try cutting four or five inches off the end branches, which you can save for mulch. While this can encourage the plant to grow more vigorously, it is not required.
In hot weather, they will benefit from a little extra water, but resist the urge to get them wet.
They do handle many unwanted growing conditions, but will die if they get too wet or if they’ve been sitting in a pool or wet soil.
If you want to grow pigeon peas as a landscape shrub, keep in mind that this particular plant is a “transient” perennial and will not occupy the same place in your landscape for generations. It usually lives up to about five years.
It produces the richest harvest in the first year of harvest. So if you’re most interested in growing dal for food, it’s a good idea to uproot what you’re growing at the end of the season.
You’ll find that plants are easy to self-seek. So unless you have a wild and free garden space, you may need to pull volunteers or cut them at the soil line and leave the roots in place to collect dirt.
You can sun-dry the cut seedlings or side shoots for use as animal feed or mulch, or add them directly to compost.
Pigeon beans don’t have pest and disease problems, especially if you plant them as cover crops and settle into the soil a few months later.
However, if you grow them as edible crops or perennials, they can become infected or encounter insect or herbivorous pests. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Pest: Beans tend to attract certain insects and herbivores. These are the most common of C. cajan:
You may find deer, rabbits and voles happily nibbling on young seedlings.
Marmots and raccoons can also feed on plants or young pods.
To prevent this from happening, consider using row covers when the seedlings are established. If deer are a problem in your area, fencing may be required.
To learn how to stop rabbits, read our guide.
Only a handful of bugs can cause trouble for this tough crop. Most situations can be avoided by carefully rotating the vegetables you grow so that you don’t grow beans in the same location more than once every three years.
Here are three possible pests:
Single or dense holes in leaves may indicate armyworm infestation, especially beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua) or western strip armyworm (S. praefica).
The name “beet armyworm” is misleading because these pests destroy many vegetables, including pigeon beans.
The larvae of these aggressive beetles can gnaw on leaves until they become skeletons and also leave tiny pits on the pods.
Keep an eye out for their egg clusters, which look like cotton or down.
The primary way to control armyworms is to implement integrated pest management. Learn more in our guide.
Read our guide to learn more about using chemical or organic pesticides to prevent infestation and control beet armyworm.
Cutworms are the larvae of noctuid moths that actually cut the stems of young seedlings on the ground.
If you catch them early, you can pick them by hand or treat them with insecticidal soap.
Check out our guide to learn more about ways to identify, prevent and eliminate cutworms.
Thrips belong to the order Thysoptera, which includes more than 5,000 species, and are only one-eighth of an inch long, making them difficult to spot.
Nymphs and adults will destroy the leaves and eventually destroy the plant completely.
The first line of defense against thrips is not to plant dal next to thrips favorite plants like green onions.
Once you spot them, you may need insecticidal soap to deal with them.
Learn more about identifying and treating thrips in our guide.
Pigeon peas do not usually fall prey to common plant diseases, but some can pose a threat, especially when the plants are unhealthy or grown in conditions that are too wet or in diseased soil.
Fungal species of the genus Anthrax cause anthracnose, which is most common in high humidity and cool weather.
Anthracnose is soil-borne, and the fungus attacks after overwintering in garden soil. The infection causes dark colored veins on the leaves and oval lesions on the pods.
The key to prevention is to only plant beans in places that haven’t been grown for a season or two.
Also, make sure you never water your plants from above, and bury any valuable bean crumbs completely below the soil surface at the end of the season.
If your plants end up infected with anthracnose, remove and destroy all affected plant matter immediately.
Produced by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotum, also known as sclerotinia rot, white mold is spread by wind, contaminated water, and infected seeds.
Signs of white mold include the cotton-like substance covering the buds and dark lesions on leaves, stems and even pods.
The final stages of white mold include dead branches, followed by the death of the entire plant.
To reduce the chance of a white mold infection, rotate where you plant dal during different seasons. Plant them only before or after crops that do not have this mold, including corn and other grains.
Also avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer and try to place your plants where they won’t be hit by winds that carry this fungus.
Are you already growing Pigeon peas? If you have lessons learned or questions you would like to share, globaltimes-sl.org welcome your comments in the comments section below.