Green manure: it’s not what you think!

green manure

As we have settled into the colder months of the year, some of you might notice your garden’s seen better days. Up here in Queensland, it’s prime growing season – but in summer, my veggie patch is a wasteland where weeds and rocket compete to create their own mini-jungle.

Whether your garden’s downtime is now or to come, landscape designer Matt Leacy, from Landart, suggests creating a green manure crop to ensure your garden’s fertility and to give it a little of the love it lost providing you with those beautiful tomatoes and other veggies.

What’s up with the green poo?
A green manure crop is not actually manure. It is a living fertiliser and is the most organic form of fertilising available. The idea is to grow a mixture of annuals in your veggie patch as this will give the soil life through these winter months. And healthy soil is living soil. Follow these simple steps and your garden will be ever-grateful.

Step 1: Buy your budding seeds
There are packet mixtures of seeds that can be purchased from most nurseries but at this time of year it is important to use something that will grow through your down season.  Broad beans, rye corn, black mustard seeds are a good mix for cooler climes this time of year, even peas and Lucerne will work well. Don’t forget, the denser the green crop the more it will keep those nasty weeds at bay.

Step 2: Sowing the seeds
Cultivate the soil. Chicken manure can be added at this point but it is optional. Sprinkle the seeds over the patch and rake them in. This will give them good enough coverage and depth to shoot.

Step 3: Cultivate to generate
When the crop is about half a metre to a metre high (or even head height) it can be clipped or mowed down to the ground.  For those who are unsure when to clip their crops, five to six weeks before you are planning to plant your next veggie crop is a good time. Dig in the clippings in with a hoe to disturb the roots, aerate the soil and encourage the micro-organisms and earth worms into the soil. Animal manure can be added at this point also.  Don’t get too stuck on when to add the manure because it can be added at any point throughout these steps.

Step 4: The fun stuff
Five to six weeks after the cultivation, your garden is ready to plant. The most rewarding thing about growing a green crop is that it is the most organic way to provide life back to your garden. It also comes with the benefits of having some unusual plants to look at, in what is for some an empty garden bed through the winter months.

With spring just around the corner, you southerners had better get a wiggle on to ensure a productive garden from Spring. Thanks Matt from Landart for this step-by-step guide to Green Manure!

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