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Hi All

I am just taking a break for lunch after clearing away the debris from my runner bean patch and would like to know if I have a problem there.  When I lifted up one or two of the plant remains. I noticed there were what looked like seeds attached to the roots. They are round and sandy coloured. Does any anyone have an idea what this could be and if I ignore it or if it is likely to be a problem, how do I deal with it?

Many thanks



Did you buy the plants in or sow them yourself ?


Are these not the nodules that fix the nitrogen in the soil and improve it

I sowed the seeds myself and planted them Geoff. Regarding nitrogen nodules, I had heard that it is best to leave the roots in the ground for a while to increase the nitrogen but I didn't know how they go about doing this.  Could this be the nodules then?


If they are something like this- then yes




Just cut the tops off-leave the roots in the soil-whatever they do they do it themselves but not a scientist

Yes that seems to be them.  Thanks Geoff. Maybe they will help my brocolli next year if I leave the roots in the soil when I incorporate some compost for autumn digging over the next couple of weeks. What says You?



Sounds like a good plan--you may find they send up a shoot or two next year if they survive the winter-though it has never happened to me

I will probably pull them out early new year to help with the consolidation of the ground. You know - loose soil poor brassicas.  I try to get the soil done for brassicas in autumn and leave it well alone until just before planting time so it is not interfered with. But I digress.  Thanks Geoff!


When you beans have finished cropping cut them off at the roots rather than dig them up, then leave the roots to decompose in the soil over winter.  The plant has been absorbing nitrogen and storing it in the nodules on the roots.  In the spring just plant your brassicas into the soil - you only need to hoe any weeds out, not dig the soil over. They'll benefit from the nitrogen from the bean roots.

The nitrogen will have been passed on to the plant during the growing season. There will be very little value left in the roots other than the fact that the plant is perennial and would grow again from those substantial roots given protection from frost over the Winter.


I know that there are some current queries regarding the future benefit to the soil of leaving the roots in to decompose - however it is what gardeners have found to be beneficial for years past, and there is certainly no harm in it, so I shall continue to do it until I am provided with evidence that there are no benefits.

So are you saying that I should not need to re-compost the ground until after next year's brassicas have finished but rely on last year's composting and the nitrogen from the bean roots?

Green Magpie

A bit of compost won't do any harm, as it refreshes the soil and improves its texture, helping it to retain water (that's a bit of a joke after this summer, isn't it!). The nitrogen from the beans will be good for the brassicas but they do need other nutrients as well.

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