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Friday Favorite: The Little Things

September 2nd, 2016

One of my favorite things about gardening is that it makes me slow down and notice the little things in nature. Whether it’s the tiny pollinators hovering over the cilantro blooming, or the way different plants change throughout the season. This past week I was pulling the green beans and was fascinated by the nitrogen nodules on the roots.
nitrogen nodules on bean roots
The beans were pulled and layered on the soil right where they were planted. They will smother any weeds and provide a nitrogen rich mulch. There’s no point in taking them to the compost pile when they will break down by next spring. I’m all about finding more efficient ways to accomplish my goals.
mulching with pulled plants
If you have children, gardening can be a fantastic way to get them interested in biology and science. It’s a great learning opportunity, particularly in teaching them about symbiotic relationships. I love knowing that these green beans are harvesting nitrogen and providing it to the plants growing around them and the plants that will follow them. It’s an amazing process and one I am so happy to be able to observe!

What amazing things have you noticed in the garden this week?

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?

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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.