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  • Writer's pictureMathilde Burlion

The benefits of growing peas and beans

Like us, crops need food to develop well and produce fruit.

They need sugar and have this amazing ability to turn sunlight right into it through the photosynthesis.

They also need nutrients found in the soil. The three main nutrients being nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Nitrogen fixation

Peas and beans belong to the "legume" family. Legumes have the amazing ability to grab the nitrogen present in the air and make it readily available in the soil for other non-vegetable crops.

Some bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with the vegetables and left around the seed at planting time, they will work with the plant to increase the nitrogen fixation and also the yield. You can find those bacteria on the market. Look for "inoculant".

Here is an inoculant I have used in the past and it worked well.

Peas and beans can capture the nitrogen in the air, bring it in the soil so that it is available for the other crops. That is why they are a must-have in the vegetable garden.

Focus on Peas

Peas are a cool season crop. I like to let them soak one night before planting them. You can plant them in early spring or mid august for a fall crop. They will be able to handle some frost.

They won't do well in an acidic soil as many veggie crops, so it's a good thing to test your soil to find out the acidity and nutrients levels.

Peas will climb and will be happy to have some support to climb on.


It's a good thing to test your soil to find out the acidity and nutrients levels. You can do it with Rutgers

Beans

Beans come in bushes (bush beans) and in vines (pole beans). They are warm season crops, so they should be started after the last possible frost date which happens to be May 15th in New Jersey.


I like to practice the 3 sisters combination brought to us by the Native Indians: when my sunflowers have emerged and are maybe one "hand" tall, I plant beans seeds at the base of them. The sunflower grows fast and soon the pole bean vine is climbing on it and fertilizing it through the nitrogen fixation.

The last sister is usually some squash or zucchini, which dense leaves cover the ground and keep the soil humid. I wasn't super successful with the squashes in this combination. They got powdery mildew and bugs. Maybe because it was somewhat overcrowded. The following spring I still use the old sunflowers stem to support peas.

Beans may be attacked by the Mexican bean beetle which has a bright yellow larvae. As with all larvas, you may remove them by hand and tell them bye bye throwing them in a bucket of soapy water.


Note 1: seeds often come with spacing requirements. Follow them :)


Note 2: clover is also a legume, if it is present in your lawn, the nitrogen released in the soil will feed your grass, so leaving it is the best thing you can do to nurture your grass, as well as leaving some dead leaves in the fall.

It may not look as uniform and standard as golf course turf but it is so much better for the environment.

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