Nitrogen is one of the most vital nutrients plants need to grow.
You can make sure plants have enough by either using compost or adding fertilizer to your feeding practice.
A third, simple and delicious way is to grow nitrogen-fixing plants.
Nitrogen fixers⸺beans and peas being the big options for kitchen gardeners⸺are magical.
They can actually pull nitrogen out of the air and “fix” it into the soil. They do this with the symbiotic help of Rhizobia bacteria, which exists in healthy soil.
The bacteria cause nodules to grow on the plant’s root. Inside those little nodules, the bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which the plant then converts into protein for growth. All of this magic is powered by photosynthesis.
Other plants that perform nitrogen fixation include lentils, alfalfa, carragana and clover.
I always plant beans and peas in a fresh garden box to enrich the soil for next year’s crop. I will snip these plants off at the end of the season (rather than ripping out the roots) so that there is residual nitrogen left in the soil.
On top of it all, beans and peas are absolutely delicious, full of fibre and strong contributors to a healthy gut biome, and protect us against significant diseases like cancer.
Women need at least 25 grams of fibre each day and men need 38 grams. Half a cup of snap beans (about 70 grams) provide about 2 grams of fibre. As for these sugars snap peas, about 10 of them (34 grams) offer about 0.6 grams of fibre.
Plants beans and peas for flavour and for the health of your body and your soil. Win-win-win.