By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Question: What Does Bean and Pea Inoculant Do and Is It Really Necessary?
Many sources recommend using an inoculant when planting the seed of legumes beans and peas, especially when planting in cool, wet soil.
Answer: Peas, beans, and other legumes can fix their own nitrogen with the help of rhizobia bacteria. These bacteria are soil based microorganisms that have a symbiotic relationship with legumes. The benefit is a higher yield and stronger plants.
Rhizobia bacteria are found naturally in most garden soils, but they tend to be less active
in cool, damp soil. To jump start their spring growth you can use an inoculant, a powder containing millions of rhizobia. You can either coat the seeds by shaking them in a plastic bag with the inoculant or simply mix the powder into the planting soil.
I personally use in my mountain soils everytime beans and peas are planted in the garden, or raised beds. It really makes a difference.