|Gardeners Guide to Growing Green Beans|
Peas, and other legumes garden plants like beans, have the ability to take nitrogen in the atmosphere and fix it in the soil in which they grow. The plants do this by using bacteria located in nodules on the plants roots. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial to both the legumes and the bacteria. The bacteria take nitrogen from the oxygen and, by a complex chemical process, convert it to ammonia. Ammonia is nitrogen in a form that plants can use it. The plants pay the bacteria back by supplying sugars to the bacteria that it needs to survive. The bacteria are a special kind called Rhizobium bacteria. The bacteria are specific to the plant, thus the Rhizobium bacteria that peas need are a different species from the ones that beans require. This bacteria is usually present in garden soil.
Deficiencies of Rhizobium
If the type of legume you are planting has not been planted in the garden before, if it is a new plot or you have not planted the plant before it is possible that these bacteria are not present. Using chemical fertilizers or pesticides can also kill the bacteria. To ensure that the bacteria are present, you may coat the seed with an innoculant that contains the correct bacteria at seed planting time. The innoculant sold in garden stores and mail order seed supply companies usually contain a mix of bacteria that will inoculate most garden crops. These inoculants are inexpensive. The inoculants will have an expiration date and must be stored properly for them to survive. The species needed for most garden crops are:
Common Beans - R. leguminosarum bv. phaseoli
Field or Garden Peas - R. leguminosarum bv. viciae
Peanut - Bradyrhizobium sp.
Chickpeas - Mesorhizobium sp.
Soybeans - Bradyrhizobium japonicum
To use, moisten the seed and dust the innoculant over it. mix it in well and plant immediately. You can also sprinkle the innoculant into the soil where you are planting the seeds. Work it in well. Some seeds are pre-inoculated, so check the seed packet, which will state it on the package if it is. Store unused innoculant in a sealed plastic bag in an area with consistent temperatures. A refrigerator will work. Properly stored, the innoculant should keep for a year.
temperatures. A refrigerator will work. Properly stored, the innoculant should keep for a year.
Legume crops like peas and beans will fix more nitrogen in the soil than they need. This nitrogen is available for future crops grown in the garden and can reduce fertilizer for other vegetables. Farmers have taken advantage of this nitrogen fixing ability for generations by rotating legume crops with other field crops.
After planting, bush beans will need little care other than to check for insect pests or disease every few days. Pole beans will need some sort of support to climb. An extra feeding of manure, compost or diluted liquid fertilizer can benefit beans. Apply it about halfway through the growing season.
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