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Legumes


Historically the Legumes (pea and bean family) were valued above all as a winter food as they can be dried and stored, or ground into flour.

Legumes

Information About Legumes

They have nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots so, If you leave the roots in the ground to rot down, they will enrich the soil. Runner beans, French beans and broad beans are among the most popular allotment crops, being easy to grow and prolific. The more you pick, the more will come.


French and runner beans are tender and will twine around a support by themselves. Peas and broad beans are hardy, cool weather crops. Peas cling on by their tendrils and will happily scramble up a row of pea sticks, hazel twigs, or netting supported by stakes. The supports should go in before planting.

Soil and situation

All need sun to do well. Apart from clay-loving broad beans, legumes prefer a light but rich soil on the alkaline side (pH7—7.5). Remember to have a sufficient heating system in place if you’re growing inside a greenhouse. Organic matter should be well mixed in before planting or you can grow them on a ‘bean trench’.

Cultivation

To give them the best start and avoid the mouse and pigeon problem, sow the seeds under cover in a piece of guttering. This is a neat trick as you just slide them off the guttering when transplanting without disturbing the roots. They can also be station sown outside with cloche protection. Sow three or four per station.

Once transplanted, keep the plants moist and protect from weeds with mulch. Avoid watering too much as this will encourage growth in the leaves rather than the flowers and seeds, but water generously when they start to flower to maximize the crops.

Problems

Rotation is important to avoid a build-up foot and mot rots. Birds (particularly pigeons), rodents, slugs and snails can be a problem. Broad beans are prone to black bean aphid. Pea and bean weevil, root aphid and red spider mite can occur. French beans can get anthracnose and halo blight.

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