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Growing Green Manure


By Wendiam

West Sussex, United Kingdom

Acquired a small piece of land recently, for growing veggies on, although we have planted [in late June] our excess of brassica seedlings and other crops, a little late, I know, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. There are potatoes on a section that are ready to lift and I would like to plant green manure there for next year's crops.
What's the best way / time of doing this as I keep reading that once the gren manure plants have grown and been dug it, it is recommended to plant the intended crops quite soon or the nutrients leach out? Was hoping to sow/grow/dig in and overwinter, ready for planting next Spring.
Any ideas?



If you grow a green manure crop like winter tares, which is good for covering the ground, you can cut it down short in the spring and dig it in. All green matter dug in is likely initially to 'rob' some nitrogen out of the soil as it decomposes, but this will be put back as the green manure breaks down, as well as adding humus. If you choose tares or another leguminous crop like clover, these will add nitrogen to the soil through the nodules on their roots. So I'd say the advice about planting soon is wrong, it would be better to wait a little.
The other approach is to grow another crop to protect the soil over winter, like phacelia, which should germinate fine in the late summer. This will suppress weed growth but die off during the winter. If not, you can easily cut it down, leave it as a mulch on the surface, and plant through it. Phacelia seems to work well at suppressing weed growth and I made the mistake of sowing it in between vegetable plants, the growth of which it also reduced! Pretty flowers though and good for bees.

27 Jul, 2009

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