Peas, Beans, Clovers, Alfalfa, and a host of other plants make up the indispensable legume family. This family has the very useful ability (with the help of certain types of bacteria in the soil) to take nitrogen from the air and use it for its own growth. All other families of plants have to find their nitrogen in the soil. This means in a crop rotation beans and other legumes actually benefit the next crop with “free nitrogen” when their residue is turned into the soil. In farming, the input of nitrogen is a large expense, and although legume seed is also expensive, they contribute more than just nitrogen with the addition of large amounts of organic matter. This will break down over time to provide long term benefits in soil structure and moisture holding capabilities. Thankfully this family has a lot of tasty members!
SNAP AND SNOW PEAS