Whether you have a front-yard garden the size of a postage stamp or a 100-acre hayfield, the use of nitrogen-fixing plants in your landscape can boost your soil fertility. Nitrogen-fixing plants, most of which are members of the legume family, are able to “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere through a symbiotic relationship with specialized bacteria on their roots. Some nitrogen-fixing plants are used as cover crops and are incorporated back into the soil through chopping, mowing, or tilling, which provides a large boost of nitrogen at once. But even nitrogen-fixing plants that aren’t chopped and dropped regularly, such as trees, still return nitrogen to the soil. Trees return nitrogen more gradually as their feeder roots (with the associated nitrogen-fixing nodules) die off and are replaced as part of their natural life cycle.
Cover crops are long familiar to farmers and ranchers, but even home gardeners (both ornamental…
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