What if someone told you that there were plants that could put Nitrogen into your soil without chemical fertilizers? What if they told you that those same plants could supply you and your family with food as well? There is such a plant and you may be a little surprised that Legumes are one of the most commonly grown crops on the planet
Here’s a list of some common Legumes:
One of the biggest reasons to have Legumes in your garden is their ability to aid in the fixation of Nitrogen in your soil. Many commercial farmers run a planting regiment of 1 year of soybeans and then 2 years of corn. This is because the soybeans, being a Legume, fix atmospheric Nitrogen in the soil that help the nutrient dependent corn thrive.
But how do they fix the Nitrogen?
Legumes use a process known as Biological Nitrogen Fixation. In this action the plant’s roots form a symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms called Rhizobia by forming nodules within their root system. This in turn creates a micro-climate for the bacteria which provides the plant with an extra source of food allowing it to be more competitive. When the plant dies (or in permaculture, mulched) the nitrogen can be released into the soil and becomes available to other plants. Not to say that the plant isn’t also releasing Nitrogen while still alive as well!
Although the most commonly commercially grown Legumes are annuals, there are also an abundance of perennial and tree Legumes. One of the benefits of of these species is there ability to consistently supply your soil with Nitrogen. When pruned at the top to be used for mulch, the roots also self prune. This results in a deposit of those Nitrogen fixing bacteria and the nitrogen itself, in turn fertilizing your soil.
Considering the vast amount of species available, many of which can serve some kind of purpose in your garden, there is no reason you can’t have these highly beneficial plants in your garden. Many are easily grown from seed or bought from a local nursery. Start supplying your own fertilizer and get planting some Legumes today!This entry was posted in Gardening and tagged Beans, Fertilizer, Legumes, Ntirogen Fixation, Peas. Bookmark the permalink. ← A Bit On Echinacea Coppicing →