Most Needed Food
A laundry list of things to pick up at the local garden center or hardware store this time of year likely includes fertilizer. It’s ironic that nitrogen is the fertilizer element generally needed most, yet the air contains about eighty percent nitrogen — 35,000 tons of it over every acre. The problem is like that of someone lost at sea; most plants can’t absorb nitrogen from the air.
A fortunate partnership has evolve between certain bacteria and plants that lets plants grab onto some of that airborne goodness.
Beans, Beans, They’re Good for Your . . . Garden
Most familiar among these partnerships is that of legumes and rhizobia bacteria. Legumes include garden plants like peas, beans,
and lupines, in addition to field plants like clover and vetch, and trees like honeylocust, black locust, and golden chain tree. In order to use atmospheric nitrogen, legumes must be infected with special strains of bacteria.
You can make sure your peas and beans are infected with the right bacteria by buying a legume inoculant when you buy your pea and bean seeds. This black powder (the bacteria comes mixed in dry peat) is applied either by shaking it with moistened seeds before sowing, or dusting it directly over seeds in the furrow. Read more