Do I need to fertilize beans and peas

ushan(7)July 11, 2009

Hello,

I have a raised bed that has Bush Beans, Peas and Cucumbers. The entire bed is new and has new soil (top soil + compost). The plants are flowering and producing veggies. Question is - Do I need to fertilize now?

Will it increase production?

If yes- What combination of N P K is best for them at this point.

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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

Did you have a soil test done on the soil in that bed?

Beans, like other legumes, produce their own nitrogen so if the soil is decent they need little in the way of care. But they can suffer from deficiencies if the soil is bad.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 8:05PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"Lots of leaves, but few beans."

That is a frequent complaint on this forum... and the problem is usually excess nitrogen. Since beans already produce some of their own nitrogen, they are very sensitive to fertilizer high in N. Fertilizer application now could actually cause the beans to return to the vegetative growth stage, and stop flowering... although I have to admit that this is most likely with pole beans.

Not sure about the peas; they are pretty much a one-shot affair anyway. The cukes would probably love a little fertilizer, but I would wait until production begins to fall off.

The correct ratio of N/P/K for fertilizer would depend upon a soil test, as Iam3killerbs mentioned. (hey, KB, can we give you a shorter nickname? ;-) Barring that, I would recommend a light application of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 12:46AM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

I'm usually 3KB on most boards.

I generally use just 3KillerBs -- a reference to my favorite Nascar drivers -- but this board wouldn't let me start a name with a number. :-)

I found out about bean nutritional deficiencies the hard way -- my soil is dreadfully deficient in potassium and I lost half my first planting this year before the soil test came back.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 7:57PM
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ushan(7)

I have not had a soil test done. Any recommendations on how to do this. Sorry am new to this and have not done it before?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 3:33PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

To get a soil test done contact your county cooperative extension (aka ag extension, aka ag agent). They will give you the boxes and the address to send them to. There are forms that go with the boxes to check off what you want to raise in that soil.

In many states, including North Carolina, this service is free. In some places you'll have to pay a modest fee.

After a few weeks you'll get a letter back from the state ag department with an analysis of the soil and recommendations for lime and fertilizer.

My garden has been so much better since I started giving my soil the recommended blend. I'm not nuts about chemical fertilizers, but I look on it as a temporary crutch while I improve the soil with compost, manure, etc.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:55AM
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ushan(7)

Thanks iam3killerbs!
I will try that. Agree with you about chemical fertilizers etc. I try to make do with the compost I make at home and am hoping not to use any chemicals.
This is the first year I have a vegetable garden and am pretty happy with the results so far :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 12:41PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

My philosophy is to garden as organically as is reasonable.

I don't consider giving up several years of possible vegetables while I work on the soil solely by organic means OR spending 10 times the money on faster-acting organic fertilizers reasonable.

But as I work more compost and other organic material into the sand it will hold the nutrients better and I can transition away from the chemical fertilizers. Or, at least, switch over only to the potassium -- which is severely deficient and hard to get from organic sources in the amounts required.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 1:14PM
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ushan(7)

So it seems that potassium deficiency will always be an issue. How do you address that - organically?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 1:27PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

I don't know.

Wood ashes have some, but not enough.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 4:45PM
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ushan(7)

hmm Ok.

Thanks

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 2:31PM
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pdxmark

How much nitrogen do legumes produce without being inoculated? I suppose, if properly inoculated beans produce 100% nitrogen, what percentage would non-inoculated beans produce?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:35PM
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ushan(7)

hmm Ok.

Thanks

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:37PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

The innoculant bacteria are naturally present at some level in the soil. So that would depend on what level they are present at.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:34PM
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chaman(z7MD)

"Lots of leaves, but few Beans" translate into too much excessive Nitrogen in the soil that will put the Legume plants into vegetative growth since legumes being Nitrogen producer will add extra Nitrogen in the soil .This is the reason why gardeners and farmers are advised to practice the rotation of the crops.
Mostly corn and legumes are good canditaes to rotate one after the another.Legumes being Nitrogen fixers enrich the soil with Nitrogen while corn being good usres of Nitrogen is planted in the Nitrogen rich soil to use up lot of Nitrogen left by legumes.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 11:23PM
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newbee_gardener

Wouldn't sacrifing some potassium rich vegetables into your compost increase the level?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 10:45AM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

Not at the level of the deficiencies I'm looking at.

The natural ecology of this area is rather interesting -- being naturally impoverished and fire-dependent. Great for Longleaf pines. Lousy for vegetables. :-)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:31AM
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plantslayer(8)

So if I just side-dressed my stand of beans with a bit of organic "7-4-9" fertilizer (fish meal, crab meal, fish bone meal, gypsum, etc.) does that means I have screwed them up, or will this stuff release slowly enough that it won't shock the beans back into the vegetative growth state? I basically just tossed some on top of the soil between two rows and wet it down when I watered them.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 5:09PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

That will depend on the state of your soil when you did it.

If the soil fertility was low it will do them a lot of good. If the soil was already high in nitrogen it could cause leafy growth at the expense of fruit set.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 7:26PM
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plantslayer(8)

Well, the plants were doing fine for the most part and were setting plenty of fruit and all that. I guess I sort of assumed they would need some slow release nutrition to keep them cranking out beans, but I guess that was a faulty assumption. Anyway, here's hoping the fertilizer decomposes/dissolves slowly enough to not mess them up.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 8:09PM
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iam3killerbs(7 NC Sandhills)

If they stop don't blame yourself too much.

Many bush beans have a built-in time limit where they'll set a crop or two, sometimes 3 flushes of new beans and then die.

The varieties bred for commercial growing have only one flush of beans -- they're bred to set all their beans at once for mechanical harvest and then they die.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 10:17PM
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