How to grow legumes

Planting peas and beans
  • Broadbeans are finishing up in the garden, so it’s time to get peas and green beans into the soil to ensure you have a continuous supply of legumes.
  • Peas are cool-loving plants. They don’t set their flowers when temperatures get over 24 degrees. So now’s the time to get your peas in. Planting peas now means you’ll be able to pick them from early December for 3-4 weeks.
  • Beans, on the other hand, can tolerate more heat. Rob plants beans three times during the spring and summer months. After this planting he’ll plant more in December and another lot at the end of January which will go through to March next year.
  • Peas and beans require soil enriched with organic matter. Add compost to the bed every time you plant a new crop. They also like an alkaline soil, so apply several handfuls of lime. Finally add a sprinkling of volcanic rock dust because it’s full of minerals and ensures high plant health.
  • We don’t need to add any nitrogen fertilisers though. Peas and beans form a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium types of bacteria. These bacteria colonise the roots of peas and beans. From their homes in the plant roots they take nitrogen from the air and convert it into ammonia, a form of nitrogen that plants can use. Peas and beans, for their part, feed the bacteria a steady diet of plant sugars. If this relationship is established you’ll see white or pinkish white nodules on the end of pea or bean plant roots.
  • There’s no need to work the fertiliser into the soil before planting plants about 15 cms apart.
  • Rob then pushes a pea seed lightly down into the soil in between the plants. It’s important not to push the seed too deeply in as it may rot. Having plants of different sizes ensures a long harvest season.
  • You’ll need to support your pea and bean vines, so either create a wire fence or make a teepee out of garden stakes. See here for growing peas on a teepee
  • We’re also going to plant bean seedlings – climbers (Shiny Fardenosa) and runners (Scarlet Runner). Climbers twirl their tendrils clockwise, runners always grow anti-clockwise. If you plant climbers with runners you’ll be able to save your seeds as they don’t cross-pollinate, unlike two varieties of climbers or two varieties of runners.
  • Both peas and beans need bees to pollinate them, so encourage bees into your garden by planting flowers or an insectary. Runner beans actually need bumblebees for pollination because the flowers are deeper and bumblebees have longer tongues. Flowers also bring in beneficial insects which can help decrease populations of the green shield beetle which can do serious damage to bean crops.
Preparing your garden bed for planting tomatoes
  • This year Labour Weekend falls in the First Quarter of the Moon Calendar so it’s the perfect time to get our tomato plants into the garden. But first we need to prepare the soil. Preparing soil for planting tomatoes
Planting tomatoes
  • To ensure your tomato plants get off to the best possible start, take a look at how Rob does it. Planting tomatoes


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
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