Green manures

Need to know the best time to plant?

Moderators: KG Steve, Chantal, Tigger, peter

Barry
KG Regular
Posts: 350
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Central Kent
x 7

Green manures

Postby Barry » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:30 pm

I planted several types of green manure in the autumn for overwintering. Mostly, they have done well.

The advice is to cut the plants down in early spring then dig them in. Apparently, in order to release the goodness in the plants, you have to cut them up first, using shears or a strimmer.

I operate no-dig raised beds. If I cut off the tops of the green manure, the roots should still continue to produce shoots come the spring.

How do you therefore get the greenery to be incorporated into the bed without digging it in? I want, obviously, for the roots of the plant to die quickly, too.

I have no problem using black plastic to rot the greenery and stop the roots getting water (and therefore die), but is there any other way of getting the manure goodness into the soil and for the roots to stop producing and decompose?
0 x
User avatar
Pa Snip
KG Regular
Posts: 3091
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 8:20 pm
Location: Near the big house on the hill Berkshire
x 795

Re: Green manures

Postby Pa Snip » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:20 am

Barry wrote:I planted several types of green manure in the autumn for overwintering. Mostly, they have done well.
The advice is to cut the plants down in early spring then dig them in.
I operate no-dig raised beds.


Hi Barry, I have to ask if it goes against your policy to dig something in why grow it.

On the basis of going to an extreme do you not grow carrots, beetroot or potatoes and other root crops as they would require digging out.
Assuming it does not go against a non dig policy Is the logical answer to hoe the green manure in after it has been cut or don't you hoe either.
0 x

The danger when people start to believe their own publicity is that they often fall off their own ego.

At least travelling under the guise of the Pa Snip Enterprise gives me an excuse for appearing to be on another planet
User avatar
robo
KG Regular
Posts: 2407
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: st.helens
x 774

Re: Green manures

Postby robo » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:05 am

If you cut it then cover in black plastic the worms in your soil should do the job for you and kill the roots but I do agree with pa snip
0 x
tigerburnie
KG Regular
Posts: 1400
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:12 am
Location: Angus by the sea
x 735

Re: Green manures

Postby tigerburnie » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:24 am

I use a three pronged tiller(mine happens to be from the Wolf system), that hoes up any weeds and helps combine manure/compost into the soils upper level of an inch or so without digging into the heart of the soil structure.
0 x
Been gardening for over 60 years and still learning.
Monika
KG Regular
Posts: 4218
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:13 pm
Location: Yorkshire Dales
x 648

Re: Green manures

Postby Monika » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:22 pm

A sharp Dutch hoe will sever the roots which will then rot down.
0 x
Barry
KG Regular
Posts: 350
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Central Kent
x 7

Re: Green manures

Postby Barry » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:48 pm

I have both a sharp Dutch hoe and a Wolf three-pronged tiller, so I'll try that and, in the meantime, make it quite clear to the resident worms that they'll be having lots of food that I expect them to digest on my behalf.

I started planting green manures a couple of years ago, having seen examples of gardeners who do the same, essentially not to leave soil bare over the winter.

I used to turn them in at the end of the season, but got to see the results on my own plot of seriously increasing yields when I stopped deep digging. Last year's potato crop, which was grown in established raised beds, is the best I have ever grown. It is put down to leaving deep soil structure in place.

I decided to pull out of all but the most necessary digging (although I love digging) after damaging my back in the middle of last summer. It's better now, but my osteopath has advised me not to go gung ho digging if I can help it :( So, I'm now looking for easier ways to do most of my gardening and, apparently, the worms can be most obliging!!

Thank you all for your suggestions.
0 x
PLUMPUDDING
KG Regular
Posts: 3269
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Stocksbridge, S. Yorks
x 379

Re: Green manures

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:14 am

Like the others have said there are several ways you could incorporate it into the top layer of soil without digging, but it also depends on the kind of green manure that it is.

Phacelia is easily worked in if chopped up when still green but woody if left over winter.
Grazing rye takes a lot more working in and contains a growth inhibitor for a few weeks after chopping up while it breaks down.
Lucerne roots have a tendency to re-grow when you've chopped the tops off.
Clovers tend to die off over winter here anyway but different varieties are stronger and more persistent.

If you give the chopped up tops time to wilt before covering them with anything they are more likely to start breaking down and it will take a lot of worms to deal with a thick layer of greenery anyway, so it might look like a layer of compost anyway when you uncover it.
Some green manures need to occupy the ground for a season to get the most benefit so you may need to leave a bed fallow.

I sometimes use a three pronged hand tiller to work stuff into the raised beds, like Tigerburnie's but less energetic.

You've plenty of options but need to bear in mind what will suit the particular green manure best that you are using. Layers of cardboard are also a good cover while it's breaking down, blocking the light but letting a bit more moisture in and insulating it a bit, but not as aesthetically pleasing as black plastic I suppose
0 x

Return to “Seasonal tips”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests