The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Legumes are mostly known for their as­so­ci­a­tion with ni­tro­gen. When you see a fal­low cane field with a strange low broadleaf crop, it is prob­a­bly a bean va­ri­ety.

There’s some strange lit­tle friendly bac­te­ria (not all of them are en­e­mies) call rhi­zo­bium. It is a soil-borne bac­te­ria that at­taches it­self as a nod­ule to a plant root and works at ‘fix­ing’ ni­tro­gen.

If you fol­lowed the sto­ries re­cently with the phe­nom­ena of why ev­ery­thing af­ter a thun­der and light­ning storm al­ways looks fresh and green, this is the same ex­pe­ri­ence. The elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by the light­ning in the at­mos­phere ‘fixes’ at­mo­spheric ni­tro­gen into a form that plants can use read­ily. It’s like a big hit that is ab­sorbed by the plant im­me­di­ately.

Legumes and rhi­zo­bium do the same in the ground. Just about any tree or plant with a pod is usu­ally a legume. The weed tree leu­caena is a vig­or­ous legume. It was in­tro­duced as fod­der for cat­tle in times of drought. It is so good for this pur­pose the trees are smashed by cat­tle for its cat­tle cui­sine value. To us it’s a pest. But if you were to de­mol­ish the tree and com­post it into the soil it would have the same ben­e­fit of pro­vid­ing ni­tro­gen to the soil.

Broad beans, pur­ple run­ner beans (that turn green when cooked), navy beans (the one used in baked beans), bor­lotti, but­ter beans, chick peas are all pulses we know and use more of­ten than we think. Red kid­ney beans that are the central in­gre­di­ent in a good chili con carne are easy to grow from seed. Most beans don’t like be­ing trans­planted. Like all beans, red kid­ney like welldrained, rich soil.

The good thing about beans of any kind is you can grow them in a pot in a cor­ner with a trel­lis for some sup­port, and you have a great source of pro­tein and fi­bre. They like a liq­uid fer­tiliser on a very reg­u­lar ba­sis to keep up with the nu­tri­tion re­quired by a beanstalk that can grow up to 1m a day and fin­ish up like Jack and his beanstalk.

Beanz may meanz many things, but they are easy to grow, have some of the best health ben­e­fits and have a range of tasty ap­pli­ca­tions.

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