BEANS as Fertilizer and Soil Amendment

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Why might beans be good for the garden?

Beans contain proteins which convert to nitrogen. Because they’re organic matter, they help keep the soil “alive”. They also decompose quickly depending on environmental factors as well as the type and age of the material.Beans can be great for a gardenWhere do I find beans?

I don’t usually have extra dried or cooked beans lying around. If you need to get rid of dormant bags of beans in the cupboard, go ahead and recycle them in your compost. Cooked beans can be composted too as long as they do not contain meat juices or lots of oil.

Work spent beans and pea plants, and their roots back into the planting bed or use as a compost ingredient. These plants “fix” nitrogen from the air and give back nitrogen to the soil.

 

Which plants may benefit from beans?

I think the best use for beans is in the compost. I have never used dried or cooked beans or peas directly in planting holes but suppose this would work if you left the materials for at least a couple months to decompose.

Combine beans with…

In the compost pile, combine beans with carbon-rich materials such as leaves, cardboard and straw.

Beans in the Compost Recipe

Add dried beans, cooked beans, fresh beans and stalks, vines, leaves and roots of bean plants to the compost pile. Chop up plant matter if possible.

Because bean plants “fix nitrogen” from the air and ground and contain more nitrogen than carbon, they are considered a “green” material in terms of composting. Add the same amount or a bit more of carbon-rich materials to balance out the carbon to nitrogen ratio (dried leaves, straw and paper). If dried beans sprout, no worries, just stir them back into the compost, preferably in the middle where it gets the hottest.

Use bean plants in soil

Beans Quick Tips

  • If your bean plants look infested or diseased, do not add them to your compost. To be on the safe side, discard the plants if you see signs of trouble – you might not be able to see the eggs and larvae of the bean beetle or leaf miner.
  • Lots of websites list beans as carbon or brown composting materials. That may be incorrect. Beans contain more nitrogen than some plants and certain types of legumes are valued as green manures and cover crops.