Why Grow Perennial Legumes – Learn About Planting Perennial Legumes?
Perennial legume plants are perennials which means they will continue to grow year after year. They have a long life span and their seeds do not die even if the soil dries out. These plants can be grown in any climate conditions. They require little care, but need to be watered regularly during dry periods.
The following table lists some of the benefits of perennial legumes:
Benefits of Growing Perennial Legumes
1) They provide food for animals.
The plants produce edible seeds which can be eaten by livestock such as cattle, goats or sheep. They also provide fodder for poultry.
2) They increase crop yields.
Perennial legumes are known to improve crop yield because they add nitrogen to the soil. The nitrogen helps in increasing the fertility level of the soil thereby improving its ability to absorb water and nutrients from rainfall and irrigation water.
3) They reduce erosion caused by heavy rains and snowfall.
The plants have a large number of roots which help in binding the soil and preventing erosion.
4) They increase biodiversity.
The legumes provide shelter and food for a large number of species. This improves biodiversity by providing suitable habitat for many animals, birds and insects.
5) They improve farm profitability.
Some of the legumes such as clover can be used as bio-fertilizer. This adds nutrients to the soil and helps in plant growth.
How To Grow Perennial Legumes?
Perennial legumes are easy to grow and do not require much care or maintenance. However, they must be planted during the right season so that they can establish strong root systems. This will ensure that the plants will be able to survive for many years. The plants should never be harvested for the first two years. This allows them to establish strong root systems which will allow them to survive droughts.
Perennial legumes can be grown using different techniques. One of the most common way is row planting.
The seeds are planted in rows at intervals of about one meter using a hoe. Row planting is suitable for areas that are prone to wind or heavy rains. Another method is mass planting where large holes are made and filled with seeds. This method is suitable for drier areas because the plants will be able to access groundwater more easily.
The following table lists some of the common legumes that can be grown in different areas.
Benefits of Perennial Legumes
Clover: It is one of the most common types of legumes and can be grown in almost any type of soil. It grows well even in poor soils and requires low maintenance.
It is suitable for growing in pastures and along roadsides because it provides nutritious feed for livestock. It is also rich in Nitrogen and can be used as a biofertilizer. It takes three to five years for it to mature.
Alsike: It is mainly grown for its flower which has red and yellow colors. The flowers bloom during early spring and can be seen in large quantities in fields of Alsike.
It grows well in moist and fertile soil and can be found across southern Sweden.
Ladys bedstraw: It is mainly used for making wine and as a coffee substitute. The plants can grow up to 90 centimeters and has light purple flowers which bloom during mid to late spring.
It can tolerate a large range of soil types and requires moderate maintenance.
Barbarry pea: It can grow in almost all types of soil and has pink flowers. It flowers and fruits during summer.
It is also cultivated as a fodder crop for livestock. It can grow up to a height of 100 cm.
Chickling vetch: It is mainly grown for fodder and grows 30 to 60 cm in height. The plant flowers during late spring and has an extended period of growth.
It can be grown on poor soils and areas that receive low rainfall.
Desert vetch: It is a small plant with dull green colored leaves and white flowers. It flowers and fruits during spring and summer.
It can grow in dry and poor soils and is mainly grown for fodder.
These are some of the most common legumes that can be grown in different areas based on climate and soil conditions. They are easy to maintain and need very little care.
Some of them grow flowers with rich colors which can make the area very scenic. These plants can also increase the soil fertility of their surroundings because of the properties possessed by legumes.
All of these legumes can grow in various types of soil and have high drought tolerance. They also do not need too much care and can be easily grown by beginners as well.
They are often used as cover crops. This means that they are grown for a particular purpose after which they are ploughed back into the soil. This helps in improving soil fertility and prevents leaching of nutrients and loss of moisture. This means that row planting, mass planting and distribution planting can all be used for growing legumes.
The legumes also help in controlling weed growth by competing with them for nutrients and water. Small grains are often grown with legumes because the latter serve as good cover crops, fixing nitrogen in the soil and preventing weed growth.
These plants can be grown during all seasons and do not need too much attention. They can also be grown in pots or containers and need minimal maintenance.
These plants are also known to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden environment. They not only grow in soil but require little water and can be grown in dry regions or areas where the water table is high.
They can be used in landscaping projects and can be used for erosion control on hillsides. They grow well in most types of climates.
These are some of the most common nutrients that can be grown in gardens for personal use. They all have specific uses and benefits but can be incorporated in one’s diet as well as the soil to improve fertility.
Most of them require little maintenance and can be grown in pots, soil blocks or directly in ground.
They are often high in moisture and calcium which can be used for skin care. They also contain minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
“Other plants that can be grown in gardens include:”
Melons: They are often round in shape with a thick rind and a sweet taste. They can be orange, green or yellow in color.
They have high water content and are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. They are often grown on vines and require a great deal of space. They are rich in vitamins A, B and C and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Muskmelons: These melons are oval or round in shape with a thin rind. They have a sweet taste and high water content.
They are orange or yellow in color and are full of nutrients such as beta carotene, potassium and magnesium. They act as diuretics and aid in digestion. They are rich in antioxidants and help in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Watermelons: These are green in color and have a thick rind. They are often round or oval in shape.
They are full of moisture and contain high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant that is also found in tomatoes. They contain vitamins A and C and also help in reducing the risk of cancer. They also act as a natural laxative.
Squash: These can be either soft skinned or hard skinned and are grown on a vine. They often grow in a curved or cylindrical shape and contain a lot of water.
The taste can range from sweet to bitter and they are often orange, yellow or green in color. They provide dietary fiber as well as beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. They also have low calorie content and can be eaten in between meals to control diabetes.
Tomatoes: These can be either red, orange or yellow in color and are generally spherical in shape. They are often juicy and soft in texture.
They can contain a lot of water and have a high acid content. They are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A and also contain antioxidants. They help strengthen the immune system and protect against cancer. They are used to heal wounds and prevent heart diseases.
Zucchinis: These are either green or yellow in color and either oblong or cylindrical in shape. They can be eaten raw or cooked and contain a high water content.
They have a soft texture and a bitter taste. They contain a lot of fiber as well as vitamins A and C. They also contain potassium and act as a good source of calcium in the body.
Sources & references used in this article:
Ecology of herbaceous perennial legumes: a review of characteristics that may provide management options for the control of salinity and waterlogging in dryland … by PS Cocks – Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 2001 – CSIRO
Interspecific variation in plant responses to mycorrhizal colonization in tallgrass prairie by GWT Wilson, DC Hartnett – American journal of botany, 1998 – Wiley Online Library
The productivity and nitrogen economy of artificial ecosystems comprising various comninations of perennial legumes and coniferous tree species by BN Richards, DI Bevege – Australian Journal of Botany, 1967 – CSIRO
Development and growth characteristics of temperate perennial legumes by MB Forde, MJM Hay, JL Brock – Persistence of forage legumes, 1989 – Wiley Online Library
Agricultural and biofuel implications of a species diversity experiment with native perennial grassland plants by LR DeHaan, S Weisberg, D Tilman… – Agriculture, ecosystems & …, 2010 – Elsevier
Physiological and morphological adaptations of herbaceous perennial legumes allow differential access to sources of varyingly soluble phosphate by J Pang, J Yang, H Lambers, M Tibbett… – Physiologia …, 2015 – Wiley Online Library
Soil carbon addition affects plant growth in a species‐specific way by R Eschen, H MÜLLER‐SCHÄRER… – Journal of Applied …, 2006 – Wiley Online Library
Perennial grain legume domestication phase I: Criteria for candidate species selection by B Schlautman, S Barriball, C Ciotir, S Herron, AJ Miller – Sustainability, 2018 – mdpi.com