Why I’m planting leafy veg where my beans grew

I’m looking forward to planting up all my autumn veggies soon. I’ve had a great harvest this year, and have quite a few bare patches in the garden, so it’s nearly ready to go!¬†I’m now just waiting for my beans to finish cropping so that I can cut them back and follow them on with some autumn kale and winter greens.

Beans are a good source of nitrogen, and leafy crops like kale and cabbage greens do really well in nitrogen-rich soil. When I cut the beans back, I’ll be putting the foliage in the compost pile, but leaving the roots in the soil. Here’s why: if you look closely at my (slightly rubbish, sorry) photo, you’ll see a few little nodules on the bean roots (this is a small dwarf bean that was growing in a pot, I’m expecting to see many more nodules on the climbing beans that have been growing in the ground!).¬†Bacteria held in the nodules converts nitrogen from the air into usable form for the plant. When the plant dies, the nitrogen is released back into the soil. Then it can feed all the leafy kales that I’ll be planting, which will help them to produce more healthy leaves.

Meanwhile, the foliage in the compost pile will also break down and release a little nitrogen, making the compost a bit more nutritious for next year.