11 comments on “Inoculant For Peas And Beans

  1. Thanks for the timely post! I’ll be growing veggies for the first time in several years, including some peas and beans. I’ve always innoculated them in the past, but am pondering whether I should or not in my new bed.

    Last fall I built the raised bed and layered it with several different kinds of compost, shredded leaves, and grass clippings. I’m think it will be very microbially active, and am not sure whether to innoculate the legumes. Probably wouldn’t hurt, right?

    • My pleasure Linda! Can’t wait to see how your veggies do this year. Keep me updated and I’ll be checking your blog… It definitely won’t hurt to use the inoculant. Once you’ve done it this year and grown some peas/beans you’ll be much more certain that next year you’ve got the microbes you need.

  2. Thanks for the good advice! Having a veggie bed again after 5 years, tiny though it is, feels like being a beginner again. Hopefully it’s like riding a bike and I haven’t forgotten how to grow veggies!

  3. Such a great mixture of humor and information. But I’ve got a question: I know inoculant makes sense if you’re planting where peas and beans have never been planted, because it’s possible the soil doesn’t contain the necessary bacteria. But if you’re planting where they have been grown recently (say within the past three years), what purpose does the inoculant serve? I actually used some last year for the first time, and didn’t notice any difference in sprout rate or vigor. Do you recommend inoculant even when planting in beds that already contain the required bacteria?
    Thanks– Kate

    • A great question Kate! The inoculant won’t hurt in a situation where you’ve planted nitrogen fixers before, but it’s definitely not as helpful. Even in my small garden I try and rotate the locations of my beans (not so much my peas) to avoid disease and a hit of inoculant is very helpful. But once your legumes have done their thing, you can skip the inoculant without much impact. One of the reasons I like to plant and move my legumes is that they are about as good as it gets for building up the nitrogen in the soil. Whatever goes in their spot next planting will have some replenished soil to chew on.

  4. Thank you! That’s what I suspected. But you’ve raised another question: I have long wondered whether the nitrogen fixed by legumes remains in the soil if the plants and roots are removed. As I understand it, little nitrogen-rich nodules form on the roots as the plants grow. If one just pulls up the plants, do enough of the nodules remain in the soil to enrich it, or has the benefit perhaps moved beyond the nodules, or what? (I haven’t gotten around to looking this one up yet, so if you know, please enlighten me!)
    –Kate

    • It does remain in the soil. One of the nice cover crops to plant is clover. Clover does this some nitrogen thing. Once you’ve got these guys planted (legumes or clover) they supply the soil with the organisms that handle nitrogen and through one of a few processes keep the nitrogen in place within the soil. It’s not a perfect system as the nitrogen is consumed or rendered ungrabbable (just made that word up) or is pulled away over time, but it sticks around. Just as a nitrogen fertilizer that you’d add would keep some of it’s nitrogen within the soil so too does the nitrogen and organisms from the plants – they just do it better than fertilizer.

  5. THANK YOU. Most sites just say that growing legumes adds nitrogen, and even those that explain the process of fixation don’t go into any details about how and to what extent the nitrogen remains if the plants are pulled rather than dug in. So again, Thank you.
    –Kate

  6. Pingback: What you are doing in your garden « A Sonoma Garden

  7. Pingback: Garden Beginning | JennySmith.net

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