Beans VS Mulch

Some people really have a thing against mulch.

For mulch haters, one option to help out your soil is the humble, average and lowly BEAN.


All beans enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed from the air, improving the conditions for whatever crop you plant after the beans are finished. The unscientific synopsis is thus: Nitrogen in the air is not available to all plants and must be "fixed" into Ammonium.  Lighting "fixes" nitrogen in the atmosphere and nodules that develop on legume roots do the same.   HERE is a really fantastic chart that breaks it all down for you if you are interested in reading further.

In general the legumes are good company for carrots, celery, chards, corn, eggplant, peas, potatoes, brassicas, beets, radish, strawberry and cucumbers. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users like corn and grain plants because the nitrogren used up by the corn and grains are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die back. French Haricot beans, sweet corn and melons are a good combo. Summer savory deters bean beetles and improves growth and flavor. Keep beans away from the alliums. Growing tip: Do not allow beans to mature on the plant, or it will stop producing, and do not pick beans or cultivate when they are wet, or it will spread viral diseases.

Along with humble garden bean, peas, fava beans, chickpeas and any old legume will do the trick!  Find the cheapest seed available for this nitrogen-fixing boost instead of the nice, pricey varieties.  The 10 cent-25 cent packs at the WalMart and the Dollar store work just fine.


Of course, there is still mulch.  While some folks hate it, I find many more benefits that far outweigh the downsides of mulch.  Namely, the smothering of WEEDS!  Mulch also shades the soil, retains moisture and breaks down (rots) organically into the soil.  All good things in my book!  While others may disagree, I land fully in the camp of "as much mulch as possible please!"  We buy it by the truckload, rather than by the bag.

My conclusion:

You should try BOTH.  Both are very difficult to mess up and both add plenty of benefits to your garden.  Both can be found relatively inexpensively and both add to the garden in different ways.  Both help out the soil and both can make a garden look more attractive.  Instead of Beans VS Mulch, it is truly Beans AND Mulch.  Happy gardening!


Seth Ashford said…
Thanks for sharing this advice regarding mulch! It is good to know that mulch can be so beneficial to your plants' life. It sounds like I really need to find some to help my plants grow better. Hopefully that can also help me save money on buying new flowers every year.