By Penny Ossowski
Eden Seeds has a wide range of Australian legume seed for a wide range of uses available to buy online. Consider buying legume seed online for Australian conditions.
When talking about growing legumes the first plants which come to mind are beautiful pods of peas (Snow, Sugarsnap, Green) and beans (Broad, Bush, Climbing) however, the term legume applies to a much larger group of plants which all belong to the Fabaceae family. Most of the members of this family store nitrogen in the nodules on their roots. They also produce their fruit or seed in a pod.
Varieties of legumes can be ground covers, climbers, shrubs and trees. They can be grown for several purposes. Legumes for Human Consumption are used as a green vegetable, sprouts, dried beans, pulses and lentils, the plants are grown to maturity as it is their fruit that is used.
As Animal Fodder the most commonly known are clover and alfalfa which are grazed or harvested before reaching the flowering stage. For use as a Green Manure which is grown to improve the quality of soil and are cut before flowering and dug into the soil so that nitrogen is released into the soil or to be used as a mulch. Some legumes are also used for Industrial products
From Wikipedia internet encyclopedia.
'Legume plants are notable for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, thanks to a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria known as rhizobia found in root nodules of these plants. The ability to form this symbiosis reduces fertiliser costs for farmers and gardeners who grow legumes, and allows legumes to be used in a crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of nitrogen.'
Some soils have the necessary bacteria for legumes naturally available in soils but in some cases this is not available so an inoculant will need to be used and is often supplied with legume seeds. If the inoculant is not used the legume will still grow but may not store nitrogen in their roots. When using an inoculant (these often vary as to the legume), just before planting dampen the seed with a little water or milk then mix through the inoculant until the seeds are coated and plant immediately.
Legumes will grow in almost any soil type and at most times of the year even though they can be badly damaged or even killed by frost. They can be grown in pots butt tend to produce very small crops.
Peas, beans and lentils are known as pulses. Most pulses, except for soy beans, have very similar nutritional content. They are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fibre while being low in fat which is, in the main, unsaturated. Most pulses require soaking before cooking. Through previous newsletters we have looked at the common garden beans and peas which most of us grow or have grown at some time, so this time we will look at a few different legumes which can be grown in your gardens.
(Ciber arietinum) was being cultivated about 7,000 years ago in the Middle East. Evidence of its use and cultivation have been found in ancient records in Europe and the Mediterranean region. This bears evidence to its high protein levels which made it a staple in the diet of many people. Nowadays it is grown around the world. Chick peas have been used to treat kidney stones in ancient times and when coffee was in short supply during World War 1 they were roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. They can be easily sprouted for quick vegetables, dried for easy storage, cooked and eaten hot or cold, ground into flour. Leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked. Prepare garden beds with well broken down compost or manure well in advance of planting seeds to avoid too much leaf growth and not enough seed production. Garden beds should be well drained and in full sun. Sow seeds in spring and avoid overhead watering as plants grow. They will grow into a bushy plant up to half a metre high. The pods will grow to about 2.5cm long and have one or two large cream coloured peas inside. The pods can be eaten like snap peas when immature or to use the mature seed wait until the plant turns brown, remove from the garden and place in a warm dry spot. Collect the seeds when the pods split.
(Vigna radiata) originated in India and Pakistan. Today they are grown in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Traditionally the beans were dried as a 'mung dal' which was used in many dishes throughout the sub continent and Asia. They are also ground into flour which is used for glass noodles, Vietnamese spring roll wrappers, various batters, ice creams, cakes etc. Around the world they are also popular for making sprouts. Mung beans are a deep rooted annual which should be planted in spring in a garden bed in full sun. Water deeply when planting seed and then give a couple of deep watering's during the growing period. During the fruiting period they produce better beans when kept fairly dry. They will grow from half a metre to a meter tall with pods 7 to 10cm long. The pods contain up to 15 Small oval seeds. The size, shape and colour depend on the variety. Harvest Pods when they have dried.
(Arachis pintoi) originated in Brazil and even though it is related to the peanut its peanuts are too small to eat. Some people curse the legume that is shade tolerant as it is difficult to get rid of if you no longer want to grow it but many love it. The pinto peanut is a perennial which can be grown as a ground cover between garden beds or fruit trees in an orchard where it stops the soil eroding, adds nitrogen to the soil, smothers weeds and preserves moisture as a mulch and if necessary it can be mown. It is also suitable as a grazing crop when combined with grasses in tropical pastures. The pinto peanut can be planted at any time of the year in any type of soil but does better during the warmer months. It can survive long dry periods, heavy rainfall, shade and light frosts. Some breeds of ducks like to eat its flowers.
(Cajanus cajan, syn. Cajanus indicus) originated in Asia and spread with traders to Africa and then to America. It is now grown in all tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is used for human consumption, fodder and as a green manure crop. As a food young leaves can be cocked as a green vegetable, the peas can be eaten fresh, dried as 'toor dal' or ground to a flour. As fodder, animals can graze on it or it can be harvested, chopped and fed by hand. In some areas the wooden stems are used as firewood, fencing and thatch.
Pigeon peas are a perennial shrub growing up to 4 metres tall and living up to 4 years. Plant seeds directly into the soil, about 2.5cm deep during spring and summer. They will grow well in any type of soil, dislike wet feet and frost but will do well with very little rain. Seeds will germinate more quickly if they are soaked overnight before planting. The red and yellow flowers are followed by slightly hairy 4 to 8 cm long pods which are shaped around the seeds inside. Seeds vary in shape, size and colour depending on the variety. They can be cut back after harvesting seeds and can also grown from cuttings.
(Glycine max) are native to eastern Asia where they have been used for thousands of years. Because of their high levels of protein they have become a major ingredient in many processed foods including infant formula, meat and dairy substitutes, soy milk, margarine, soy ice cream, soy yoghurt, soy cheese, soy cream cheese and is a low cost filler in meat and poultry products. Vegetarians and vegans favour soy beans because of their high protein levels. Some traditional soy foods include tofu, miso, soy bean sprouts, soy meal, soy flour, soy milk, tempeh, soy bean oil and of course soy sauce. Soy beans are also used in livestock feed, oils, soap, cosmetics, resins, plastics, inks, crayons, solvents, clothing paint, ink, putty, caulking and gasoline, fire extinguisher foam, electrical insulation and gasoline.
According to the FDA,"Soy protein products can be good substitutes for animal products because, unlike some other beans, soy offers a "complete" protein profile.
Soy beans contain all the amino acids essential to human nutrition, which must be supplied in the diet because they cannot be synthesised by the human body. ''Soy beans also have significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. As soy beans contain no starch, they are a good source of protein for diabetics. Some people can have an allergy to soy beans and soy products which usually shows up as hives. There are thousands of varieties of soy beans which can be broken into two main types "vegetable" (garden) or field (oil) types. The ones we grow for food are the vegetable type which have a mild nutty flavour, good texture, size and are higher in protein.
Soy beans grow between 20cm and 1 metre high and can be planted in Spring and Summer. They will grow in any type of soil but prefer a loose, well drained soil with a lot of broken down organic matter and in full sun. Do not soak seeds before planting. Plant seeds about 3-4 cm deep, keep soil moist until shoots appear (don't over water) and water regularly during flowering and pod formation but avoid overhead watering. It is a bushy free branching annual with pods growing up to 10cm long and containing between 2 and 4 seeds. Colours vary as to the variety. Do not plant with onions or garlic. To use the beans green, harvest when the pods are about 6cm long or to harvest at maturity remove from the garden and hang upside down in a warm dry spot. Shell beans when pods are fully dry.
Soy beans should not be eaten raw; they contain trypsin inhibitor which prevents the digestion of proteins. Blanch green soy beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then plunge them into an ice water bath. Boil sprouted beans for at least 5 minutes before eating. To cook dried soy beans soak for at least 8 hours, drain and rinse then cover with fresh water and bring to the boil (don't add salt). Soy beans should be boiled for the first hour of cooking. They can then be simmered for the remaining 2-3 hours that it takes to cook them.
Elisabeth told us a little of this plant when she was our guest speaker a year or so ago. The referred to it as a chop and drop plant i.e. Grow it-as a green manure plant then cut it and use it as a mulch. There are several hundred species of Crotalarias through-out the world and Australia is home to only a handful of these. Depending on variety they grow from 30cm high up to 3 metres. They will grow in most conditions and in all types of soil even very poor soil and with very little rainfall. Most of them produce yellow pea type flowers, lots of seeds which grow so well that in some situations they become pests. They are commonly called "rattle pods" because when the seeds mature they rattle about in their pods. Even though the aborigines ate the seeds of some varieties the seeds of many varieties are very toxic. Horses and cattle have been known to die after eating crotalaria seeds. To eat seeds safely they have to be prepared correctly. Crotalaria juncea L, commonly known as Sun hemp or Indian Hemp (originally cultivated in India and Pakistan now also in Uganda, Rhodesia and Brazil) is grown for the strong fibre which is made from its bark. This fibre is used for twine, rug yam, tissue paper, fish nets, sacking, canvas and cordage.
Eden Seeds/Select Organic sells non-hybrid old traditional open pollinated varieties.
You can buy legume seed online from Eden Seeds/Select Organic.