The legume family of vegetables includes peas, snap beans and shelling beans. Peas and some beans grow as vines, and there are also bush varieties of both snap and shelling beans. These plants thrive in many home gardens when they are cared for correctly. Peas are usually grown as a cool season vegetable in spring, while beans are planted as a summer crop. Legumes require minimal care in order to produce an abundant harvest. Cultivating legumes properly ensures they continue to thrive until the last pea or bean is harvested.
Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over a full-sun, well-draining garden bed. Spread 1 pound of low nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-10 analysis, over each 100 square feet of garden bed. Till the compost and the fertilizer into the top 6 to 8 inches of the soil.
Install a trellis for peas and climbing beans prior to planting. Use a a purchased trellis or install a 6-foot post at either end of each planting row and stretch nylon netting between the posts for the legumes to climb. Peas and beans climb without any need for tying or guiding.
Plant pea seeds as soon as the ground thaws enough to plant in spring, and sow beans once all danger of frost is past in spring. Sow peas 1 inch deep and beans 1 ½ inch deep, spacing the seeds 2 to 4 inches apart in rows.
Water the bed as necessary to keep it moist but not soggy. Water deeply one or two times a week instead of daily, shallow irrigation.
Weed between the plants and the rows by hand or by disturbing the top 1-inch of soil with a hand cultivator tool. Avoid hoeing or deep cultivation, as legumes have shallow root systems that are easy to damage.
Lay a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch over the planting bed once the legumes are 4 to 6 inches tall. Mulching prevents further weed growth and helps retain soil moisture.