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Nitrogen Fixing Legumes

June 30th, 2014

Most likely you have heard about the nitrogen trapping ability of legumes like peas and beans when it comes to our edible gardens.  Did you know that there are also lovely perennial legumes that we can add to our ornamental beds to help harvest the nitrogen for other plants?  I just planted two false indigo plants in front of a ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ rose in an ornamental bad I’m adding up the garage.
false indigo
Not only do these plants look lovely, they will help all the plants around them, especially if I cut back some of the foliage and use it as mulch.  If you haven’t noticed the root nodules on these types of plants look at this.
root nodules on legume
There are so many nitrogen fixing perennials, shrubs and trees it pays to incorporate them into our ornamental beds. I spotted these lupines on my garden tour this past weekend and I have a few growing in my garden as well. They will pair perfectly with peonies since they bloom at the same time.
lupins on ocean
From crimson clover to locust trees you can find nitrogen fixing plants in all shapes, colors, sizes, and for all climates. If you don’t have any perennial legume family plants in your garden consider adding them.  Of course you will want to check and make sure the ones you want to use won’t become invasive in your area before adding them to your garden.
Whenever you can use plants to increase the fertility in your soil you save time, money, and resources.

What’s your favorite nitrogen fixing plant?

4 Comments to “Nitrogen Fixing Legumes”
  1. Marina on June 30, 2014 at 7:12 am

    You just gave me a great idea!
    I am going to mulch my asparagus bed with the false indigo when I clean up in the fall. I was using tall grasses, but this will feed them better.
    Clover is another favorite, it grows freely in my lawn and I never fertilize it. Admittedly, my lawn is 1/2 wild flowers, aka weeds, but it stays green in the drought and it is healthy with no chemicals.
    And lupines, of course!

    Reply to Marina's comment

    • Susy on June 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

      I often plant a crop of beans around my asparagus when the ferns grow up and pull it as it flowers to mulch the asparagus. It works very well!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on June 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Susy, I didn’t know there were so many different plants that produced nitrogen. The only one I knew that did that was beans. I also knew that clover was beneficial but had to be plowed under in the spring for green manure. I don’t ever remember Dad using chemical fertilizer or spraying for weeds. I was the weed eradicator. I walked many corn and bean rows chopping out cockleburs, thistles, and Creeping Jenny. He never made record breaking harvests but then again he never had record breaking expenses either. I’ll have to look into the nitrogen producing plants this winter. I’m too busy trying to stay ahead of the growing grass and weeds right now. It’s one of the plagues of having too much rain.

    Have a great nitrogen fixing legume day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on June 30, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Great idea, I am going to start to research this topic for more choices that will grow in my Hardiness Zone and eco system.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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