Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Recycle Bean Plants

So many people automatically assume that all my crop residue goes to making compost. Not so! Since I have a multitude of other sources for "waste" plant material, I channel edible plants to the livestock. As I see it, it is far more valuable as a substitute for store bought feed. Feed cost money....plenty of it here in Hawaii considering it all gets shipped in from the mainland. Trash vegetation for composting only cost me my time to gather it.

Today I checked the garden and saw that I had four spent beds of bean plants. All the beans had been picked, the variety (Maxibel) is not a rebloomer, so bean production is pau. Time to remove the plants and re-sow. 

Most gardeners I know do one of three things with old bean plants.....1) throw them into the compost bin, 2) stuff them into a trash bag, 3) throw them into the woods out of sight. #1 I might do, but 2 & 3-- never. Actually I opt for #4.....feed them to the livestock. In this case, it's the rabbits. My rabbits will eat the entire plant that is cut off at ground level. 

Ground level, did I say? Yup. I leave the root system of beans and peas in the ground. These plants form nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots. While the science behind nitrogen fixation is incomplete, the general option is that once the plant and roots die, the root nodules decompose thus making that nitrogen available for the next crop. 


  1. I give my "imperfect" "not fit for table" kale and collard leaves to our chickens. Waste not want not. I'm really enjoying your blog. As compared to the Misses Perfection (Soule Mama and Pioneer Woman) you are a breath of fresh air. You are the real deal not all glitzy and glamour. I like real.

  2. I'm a number 4 too. Sometimes I feed fresh, sometimes I dry to add to hay. It's nice seeing your rabbit so happy. :)

  3. I try - sloppily - to do succession plantings of beans and peas, hoping to get some ongoing legumes while older plants get composted. I cut them off at ground level, cover the area with mulch, drop strings or put up sticks for the next vines to climb, and hope to remember to start the next succession of the peas or beans. It works, but only if I can be consistent. It works very well for lettuce, which is great for me. I wish that we didn't get too cold for tomatoes to "overwinter", because I also set out new plants when the current ones start showing ripe fruits. The last plants were just setting fruits when we had our first frost last year, and failed to survive with just a row cover. Oh, well, it's fun to push the envelope.

    1. I haven't gotten my successive planting schedule down yet either. I keep telling myself that one of these days I'm going to pay better attention to charts and schedules. Ha, it hasn't happened yet.