Pulses are the grain seeds of plants in the legume family.
Legumes are a great high protein, high fiber food that tends to be pretty easy to grow. Popular legumes include beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, cowpeas, and fava beans, just to name a few. Soybeans, carob, peanuts, tamarind, and alfalfa are also legumes, but not all legumes produce pulses.
Legume fruits, or pulses, are simple dry fruits that are low in fat. They develop from a single carpel and are normally dehiscent, which means they unzip along one edge. These fruits are often called pods, but that isn’t exactly inaccurate. Pulses are only one type of pod. A radish silique and a vanilla capsule are also pods. While peanuts and soybeans are both legumes, they both have a high fat content, they are not considered pulses.
No green pulses
If you harvest peas or beans while they are green, they are not called pulses. They are simply vegetable crops (even though they are fruits). The same is true for legumes harvested specifically for their oil. This is a rule put out by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Differences between pulses and cereal grains
Cereal grains, such as rice, wheat, barley, corn, and sorghum certainly deserve garden space for their seed crops, they are not the same thing as pulses. Pulses may seem like just another bunch of seeds, but there are fundamental differences that make them stand alone:
The only true pulses are the seeds from dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. These plants provide one of the best bangs for your gardening buck, providing excellent nutrition and soil health improvement.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!