A Pea Scheme For Minibeds

Dateline: 26 January 2017

Pea roots from my 2016 garden.
Notice the nitrogen-fixing nodules.

A 'scheme' is defined as "a systematic plan of action." I am now in the process of developing numerous schemes for my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden. My pea scheme will be one of the first experiments. 

Pea seeds are planted as early in the spring as the soil can be worked. They are planted long before warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and corn.

And one of the great things about peas (besides the peas themselves) is that they develop nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots. If the nodules in the picture above are not clear, here is a closer look at nitrogen-fixing nodules...

If pea roots are left in the soil after the pea crop is harvested, the nitrogen in those roots is released into the soil. They become fertilizer for other plants.

In the picture at the top of this page, a whole bed of pea roots like you see were left in the soil. I just cut off the top of the plants. And then I planted the bed to garlic. That was in the fall. This spring, the growing garlic will have a reservoir of readily-available, natural nitrogen, which is something that young garlic plants can really benefit from.

So, with all of that in mind, my pea scheme for minibeds is to plant peas around the inside perimeter of numerous beds as soon as the soil can be worked. That will amount to a 9' row of peas in each bed.

I will use the proper inoculant to make sure the pea roots get the bacteria they need for maximum nodule development. Yes, the inoculant really does make a difference.

By planting only the perimeter of the beds, the middle ground will be open. After the weather warms up, and it is time to plant tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, etc. I will move the pea plant tops away from the center of the beds and plant the summer crops. 

When the pea plants are no longer producing, I will simply cut the topgrowth away, leaving the roots in the soil. Thus, the new plantings will receive the fertilizing benefit of the nitrogen in the nodules.

Will this scheme work like I think it will? Well, that's what I'm going to find out. Stay tuned...


If you are not familiar with my Minibeds-on-Plastic gardening idea, click here now: Minibeds-on-Plastic Introduction


  1. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    Hi, Herrick. Say, I was exploring your facebook Whizbang Gardening, and clicked on a comment listed on the right-hand side, lagniappemobile.com. This website addresses the use of small, home-made, jug minigreenhouses. I'm interested because my own stick-built greenhouse hasn't been finished and the method described seems so easy to germinate! Down below the article is another website, wintersown.org which describes putting your jug greenhouse and seed, directly into the ground. Interesting. A further comment on that website barely mentioned putting your seed into the ground (late winter, very early spring I'm guessing they mean) and letting the seed come up in your garden when the weather naturally brings them up. Have you tried this? Anyway, what would your opinion be to directly sow in late winter and wait for them to come up on their own accord? Thanks.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I'm going to go check out that link. Offhand, I have sowed spinach in the fall for growing in the spring and it worked. Wish I did it last year. I'd also like to try it with tomato seeds and onions. Thanks for mentioning the link. We don't buy hardly anything in jugs these days. I noticed that some of the gallon milk jugs in the store are now white instead of clear. That seems new to me.