Green Manure

Instead of leaving a patch of earth bare after harvesting a crop, why not sow some green manure.

What is green manure?
Plants grown specifically for the purpose of improving the soil. The benefits are varied depending on the plant type used.

Seeds are sown thickly as soon as a the vegetable crop is harvested. Before flowering the entire plants are then dug in to the soil by hand or with a cultivator to provide nutrients and fertility for the next crop.

Apart from nutrient enrichment, green manures have other benefits:

 

  • Weed control. Most green manures grow exceptionally quickly, thus crowding out the weeds by depriving them of light and food.

 

  • Soil structure is improved as deep roots break up and aerate the soil. When dug back into the soil, they create a great environment for beneficial organisms.
  • Natural pest predators such as frogs and beetles have a safe environment to forage.

What type of green manure are best:
The most popular green maure is Phacelia, but many others are available and we would recommend sowing something that would benefit the next crop.

If we wanted to grow brassicas such as cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts, then we would probably choose to sow one of the clovers, as these belong to the legume family and help to fix nitrigen into the soil.

Top 12 green manures:

  • Alfalfa
  • Winter grazing rye
  • Trefoil
  • Winter field beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Bitter blue lupin
  • Clover – crimson, white or red
  • Tares
  • Fenugreek
  • Mustard
  • Phacelia

Seed is usually obtained in 500g or 1Kg bags and Suffolk Herbs supply seeds for al 12 of the plants listed above, along with instructions of how to sow and when to dig in.

Image courtesy of Suffolk herbs



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