Glorious mud (and green manure)

Still no allotment office in which to lurk, so I’ve been forced to go out and visit my neighbours (in allotment terms) this week. There’s not much to do unless you’ve got good stable paths, as the mud, mud, glorious mud is everywhere, but the best organised of us (and that does not include me!) are well on the way to next year’s vegetable success. The picture shows Andy’s mustard crop which he’s going to dig in as a green manure in the late spring, before it flowers.

Why bother with green manures?

They're cheap and easy to grow.
They can increase soil fertility.
They improve soil structure and help prevent soil erosion.
Most green manure crops are very attractive to wildlife.
Bare soil encourages weed growth, so green manure bare ground to keep weeds in check.
By taking up nutrients from the soil, green manure crops prevent them from being washed away when it rains.
Some green manure plants are nitrogen fixers.
And, my favourite reason, you can sow them from a little packet, unlike digging in a dozen barrows of manure!

All you need to do is sow and leave, either until you need the land again or until just before seeding, whichever happens first. At that point you hack or strim them down, dig them into the soil and leave them to decompose, releasing plant nutrients back into the soil which are then used by the next crop you grow in that area.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, January 12, 2008

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