Green manure crops

Nature does not naturally like bare ground. If you have a quick walk outside you will always find ground that was bare – particularly over the summer –  will have a plant growing on/in it now that there has been rain. Usually we call these plants weeds but those same plants have the incredible ability to grow where other plants can not.

In our vegetable gardens minimising bare ground means you can continue to support the great work of all the critters we can’t see with our eyes. Active, growing plants keep the soil healthy, draw carbon into the soil from our atmosphere (which is brilliant) PLUS when you dig theses plants back into the soil you are adding more organic matter into the soil profile. Nothing but goodness here.

Each year I aim to give at least 1 of our vegetable beds are green manure crop. This year it is part of a bed.

I aim to sown a mix of seeds – the scratch mix we feed our chooks ticks the box for a mix of grains and legumes plus I always add some broad beans.

Seed mix read to sow.

Seed mix read to sow.

The amount of seed doesn't have to be huge. Just enough to get a mass of plant growth. The quantity passes inspection !

The amount of seed doesn’t have to be huge. Just enough to get a mass of plant growth. The quantity passes inspection !

Like any cropping farmers in the southern part of Australia now is the time to sow. There is still some warmth in the soil, plus the magic ingredient of moisture.

Prepare the area that the seed will be sown by gently ’tilling”the soil to create an open soil structure where, once seeds are sown, they will have good contact with the soil.

Garden bed ready for sowing

Garden bed ready for sowing

Once you have scattered the seeds over the area it is important to cover the seeds with soil. This can be simply raking the area or using a garden fork to “tickle”the soil. I also water in the seeds to increase the seed:soil contact.

 

 

 

 

sown seed

In a couple of months when the plants have grown to around 30cm I will cut back the growth then dig everything into the soil. The lush green growth will feed all the soil critters and then summer veg will have a brilliant thriving soil to support them during the summer to come.