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.
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.