Gardeners often grow beans and legumes as food sources because they are cheap, easy to store and contain many valuable nutrients. Some beans can be dried and then remain stored for long periods of time. Beans are some of the oldest crops cultivated and are very easy to take care of, since they are unusually hardy.
Bean plants have leaves that are in clusters of three. The pods and seeds produced by bean plants are edible. Legumes are beans that have pods that are pairs. Beans are known for having larger amounts of protein than other plants because they are some of the most effective users of nitrogen, according to USA Emergency Supply. These beans also return a lot of nitrogen to the soil, making them good plants for restoring soils that have been depleted of nutrients. They also contain a high amount of potassium, calcium and iron.
Dry beans are beans that are harvested in a dry form. They are often grown after a previous crop was destroyed by hail or other weather conditions to turn somewhat of a profit before the growing season is over. While southern and English peas are called “peas,” they are actually beans.
Dry beans do not require a lot of care to survive. Guar beans are also easy to take care of because they can resist drought very well. Most other beans are relatively hardy, but they still need insecticide, herbicides and adequate fertilizer to keep them healthy. Beans and legumes need nitrogen especially, since they use more nitrogen than most plants to create their seeds, according to USA Emergency Supply.
Diseases and Pests
Beans and legumes are vulnerable to weeds, especially annual weeds. Diseases that commonly attack dry beans include mildews, bacterial blight, rust, leaf spot and root rot. They are attacked by several pests such as cowpea circulio, stink bug, cowpea weevil, dry bean weevil, corn earworm, armyworms, lygus bugs, leaf miners and aphids.
Dry beans, such as black-eyed peas, cowpeas, pintos and kidney beans, are harvested after they ripen and are dried before they are sold. They are sometimes canned or frozen. These dry beans are very easy to store, so they can often be sold for low prices. The rest of the beans and legumes are either sold fresh, canned or frozen. Many marketplaces will not purchase dry bean harvests that are heavily damaged.