Do You Inoculate?

Pole Beans. Photo: David Owen

Last year was the first season for my new vegetable garden, and in the rush to prepare the soil and order and start my seeds, I neglected to inoculate my pole beans and my peas. The crops were OK, but not more than that, and I think  they might have been better if I had inoculated the seeds.

Beans and peas are known as “nitrogen fixers,” which means they add nitrogen to the soil. After the plants die, the nitrogen in the nodules on their roots remains.  This means you don’t have to fertilize as much, and if you rotate your crops, as you should, you are spreading this important nutrient around your entire garden.

Inoculant in the Cook's Garden catalog

But it’s not quite as simple as that: in order to fix nitrogen, these plants need soil bacteria called “rhizobia,” which live in the plants’ roots and extract nitrogen from the air. Most healthy garden soils already contain these bacteria, but it doesn’t hurt to add some in dormant form that you just mix with the dampened soil when you plant the seeds. (Moisture helps the inoculant adhere to the seeds.)

Click here for a more detailed article on inoculating.

I bought my inoculant, and I will actually remember add it at planting time. I’ll also compare my crops to last year’s and let you know if it made a difference.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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4 Responses to Do You Inoculate?

  1. Wendy says:

    I tend to buy it and then forget to use it. This year, I used it but forgot to water my seeds. Hopefully the spring rains have taken care of them for me. I’ll be looking forward to your experiment though. THanks for your Montreal suggestions – I didn’t catch them until after we were ready to leave but ahhhhh, the food there…incredible. We went to lots of little bakeries and cupcake shops, chuchai, la banquise. Every place I stopped was incredible.


    • dirtynailz says:

      That’s what the city is known for – small places with delicious food, everywhere you go. Please email me before your next trip and I’ll give you more food tips!
      I will definitely let you know how my beans are this year – after inoculation.


  2. HerbDoc says:

    Just to let you know that I used the inoculant when I planted my green beans, and they germinated in 2 days! Since they look healthier and sturdier than I remember from past years, I gave the scarlet runners a sprinkling when I planted them a couple of days ago. Can’t wait to see what happens!


    • dirtynailz says:

      Mine took longer than that, but it was so cold and rainy that frankly, I don’t blame them. Let us know about your harvest.


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