Hail Rhizobia (pronounced “rye ZO bee uh) !! No, this is not a chant honoring some strange country. Rather it’s an exclamation of happiness.
I was doing some much needed weeding in the corn today and pulled a few “volunteer” scarlet runner bean plants. I’m sure these volunteers were the result of growing a boatload of beans on the south garden fence last year. Although I’m growing more beans this year, the new ones will be trained to live with a row of sunflowers on the north side. Gotta rotate your crops you know.
Anyway, when I pulled the volunteer bean plants I was happy to see many little nodules growing on the roots. These beautiful little nodules house the rhizobia bacteria that will actually produce nitrogen while they grow. All legumes, including of beans and peas, will form a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria if the soil conditions are favorable.
Organic growing methods promote good soil health, and the “proof in the pudding” is finding your bean plants with root nodules. When the soil is happy, the rhizobia are happy. And when the rhizobia are happy, they benefit not just the beans (or peas and other legumes) but the plants nearby.
Below is a photo I took today of these beautiful nodules; and I drew a few arrows to point them out to you. Click on the picture for a better look.