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Q: Inoculant for Beans

Jun 25, 2009 -

Emailed Question from PVFS Customer - Reply By PVFS Staff Member.


I purchased some Cowpea inoculant for some black-eyed pea cover cropping. I was wondering if I can also use that to inoculate some bean seeds (royal purple and golden wax). I know it isn’t the perfect blend of bacteria, but your bean inoculant is $18 which is way more than I need for the two seed packs I’m buying. So do you think that the cowpea inoculant will actually hurt the beans?



The inoculant you have won’t hurt nor will it help your beans.  I’m including a short explanation of how it works to help you understand the two different reasons you would need the inoculant.

In fact the bacteria has a shelf life and if you have some left over at the time of the expiration date on the pk. you can simply sprinkle it into your soil for next years cowpea or other pea cover crop thus lessening the need to use inoculant next time.  However I prefer to inoculate my cover crop seed each year anyway to insure that the bacteria is sufficiently surrounding each individual root ball and forming those nitrogen nodes which stay in the soil when you till it in.  This is the whole point of the cover crop in the first place.

Bean inoculant is a different strain of the bacteria that is attracted to the beans and forms the nitrogen nodules to bean roots  thus insuring that the plant has sufficient energy to form fruit as well as grow.  Those nodes will be largely used up by the plant rather than incorporated into your soil (unlike the cover crop.)  You can use other sources of nitrogen to accomplish this if your prefer to.

Our Combination Garden legume inoculant will inoculate both peas and beans and is very reasonably priced,  A pack that covers 8 lbs of pea/beans item# ISE350 is $4.99 and the pk that covers 50 lbs is $4.99 item# ISE505.
Your cowpea inoculant should be good for your next pea cover crop if you keep it cool and use it some time close to the expiration date (generally three and sometimes up to six months after the date on the pk.)

Hope this helps.  Thank  you so much for your question, your business and for growing organic.

- Long time organic gardener and Nursery Staff @ PVFS

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