Pigeon Pea (Toor Dhal, Congo Pea)
Plant: Spring and Summer
Harvest: From 3 and up to 8 months from planting
Propagate: Propagation is by seed
Pigeon pea is a legume shrub that improves soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen. When they are pruned, (and also when the plant dies) the root nodules release nitrogen that can be used by other plants. The open canopy shelters young, delicate plants, but lets enough light through for other plants to grow underneath. Pigeon pea has a very deep tap root that is able to break through hard pans and improve the soil structure. It also brings nutrients from the subsoil to the surface. It is used extensively as a cover crop, green manure, intercrop etc. The plant is a short lived perennial shrub. It grows two to four metres and lives for about five years. The flowers are yellow or yellow and red.
When propagating pigeon pea seed, if you want to take advantage of the plant’s ability to fix nitrogen then you may have to inoculate the seeds. Pigeon Pea is not very specific. For inoculation, you can use any Rhizobium of the cowpea group such as that used for Dolichos lablab seeds.
Pigeon Pea is a staple food crop that provides a good source of protein. You can use the green peas like fresh peas and the dried peas like any other dried peas, beans or lentils. (In India they are actually one of the most popular pulses. Dhal is made from pigeon pea.) The peas can also be sprouted to make them even more nutritious, and they can be ground into flour.