Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Legume family

Members of the Legume family – peas, beans, and all their cousins – are superstar soil builders. In partnership with certain beneficial bacteria, legumes can capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and lock it into the soil where other plants can access it.

Plant legumes with every season. Include them in virtually all your garden rotations. If you have a gap in your planting schedule, or it’s too early for your next crop, plant legumes. If you’re thinking about your garden plans and not yet ready to plant, plant legumes. Let them go to work as soil builders while you’re figuring out your full design.

Particularly here in Southern California with our year round growing season, we must always be actively building our soil. Plus the legume harvest brings an important protein source to a vegetable-dominant diet.

For Southern California,

Cool season legumes include:

  • Peas: snowpeas, shelly peas, snap peas, soup peas
  • Fava beans
  • Clover

Warm season legumes include:

  • Beans: green beans, dry beans, shelly beans, bush beans, pole beans, runner beans, lima beans, yard-long beans
  • Garbanzos
  • Lentils
  • Soybeans

Hot weather legumes include:

  • Cowpeas, a.k.a. black-eyed peas
  • Garbanzos
  • Certain bean varieties from the desert Southwest

Next section: "A Fungus among us"