Green manure

Now that the weather is cooling down and we’re well and truly into autumn, you would think there would be fewer jobs to get on with in the garden. Not so. I’ve been busy tidying up the greenhouse and harvesting the last crops from there, as it will soon be time to insulate it ready for the colder months. The tomatoes have almost finished, and the peppers and chillies are now coming in thick and fast.

Peppers

Peppers

The chickens seem to have finished moulting and after a couple of weeks looking decidedly patchy, are now producing their winter feathers. We’ve also had a couple of eggs, which is a real treat after their recent lean period.

Meanwhile, in the outside beds I’m trying out something for the very first time this year.  Flicking through one of my gardening books a while back, I came across the concept of ‘green manure’. Instead of having beds of unused soil over the winter months, you grow a crop on them. This apparently stops nutrients being washed away, and is better for the soil structure than standing bare. During spring, the crop is dug back in to the soil, which puts some of the good stuff back in again.

Further investigation revealed that there really is a green manure crop for every occasion. There’s a wide variety of plants that can be grown at different times of the year, in every type of soil, each bringing its own brand of goodness to your veg plot. These are readily available at garden centres and online.

I decided to try Caliente Mustard, as it can be sown quite late in the year, grows almost anywhere, and doesn’t need much faffing around with. Perfect. According to the experts, it’s also a biofumigant: which just means that it releases gasses when it’s dug back in, that can help prevent pests and diseases in the soil.

The seeds arrived last week, and I set to work on filling in my empty veg beds. A quick rake over provided a decent surface, and the mustard seeds were sprinkled thinly on the top. Next up, another quick rake over and a water, and if all goes to plan, they’ll start growing in just a couple of weeks.

I have to admit though, after spending all year pulling weeds out, I can’t quite get my head around the idea of planting a load back in…

The Hinckley Times 25 October 2012

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3 thoughts on “Green manure

  1. Pingback: Putting the beds to bed | Chooks and Roots

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