Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Green manure  (Read 2385 times)

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Green manure
« on: June 14, 2015, 10:37:26 pm »
I alternate my veggie patches.. and in the last few years self seeded weeds etc have been sprayed down come autmun and ploughed in. It now looks like I've got the weeds under a measure of control and last years patch is looking bare after mowing down the remaining brassicas.
Green manure mixtures as such are silly money for enough for a quarter acre. I'm planning on ploughing in in the next few days, harrowing down and thinking of buying (say) a Kg each of organic lentils, flax and either quinoa or chia.. mixing it together,..sprinckling it in and chaining over and seeing what it does. Not interested in harvesting seeds.. just mow it down after flowering (if it gets that far).
It'd cost under 10.
Anyone have any better ideas?

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Green manure
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2015, 10:47:40 pm »
Guy I know swears by Comfry. No idea really but he feeds it to pigs in the spring.

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Green manure
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2015, 11:12:03 pm »
Comfry not really a green manuring plant - as in plough it in. I have some and couldn't be bothered with cutting it back and rotting it down in the bulk I'd need for a 1/4 acre. it's also a bit of a mucky plant. You have to be an enthusiast and grw a patch specially for that use..preferably away from everything else. My predecessors here had a patch around a twisted hazel.. that almost choked it. And another patch across from the driveway. Unless you scythe it down regularly and process it it just gets messy - specially when the nettles get mixed in.
I can't be doing with all that - got enough to do keeping everything tidy.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Green manure
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2015, 02:00:43 am »
I use Russian Comfrey, Bocking 14, for all sorts of things:- mulch, incorporating in the soil under tomatoes and chillies, liquid plant food, on the compost heap, attracting and feeding bumble bees, animal feeding........

However, you're right, comfrey is not a green manure, and if you were to plough in the roots, you would spread the stuff all over your veg area.  I'm not sure what you mean by a 'mucky plant', but if you mean it pops up everywhere from root sections (doesn't seed) then yes.  I grow it just the other side of some fences so the sheep can nibble the leaves but not destroy the plant.  I also have a large patch which I allow to flower for the bees, but if I'm late chopping it down and composting it after that, then it can be a bit messy, as the flower stems fall flat.  You can cut it 4 times a year and still keep it growing.

For overwintering green manures, grazing rye produces a lot of bulk, and should be fairly cheap to buy.  We left ours a bit too long, because we wanted to see how tall it would grow (over 6'  :o) and to produce a grain crop.  By then it was almost impossible to chop the roots, so the lesson learned was to chop it down when about 6" tall, allow to wilt, then turn it in.

For raising the nutritional levels of your soil by the use of green manure, what about field beans (coarse broad beans grown for animal feed), brassicas (any, including grazing rape), agricultural lupins which bring nutrients up from very deep down?  Also, mix in any left over vegetable seeds with your overall mix, such as peas, garden brassicas, sunflowers (bird seed), even lettuce.  Whatever you choose, you want bulk, and to think about the nutrients each plant will bring.

If you don't let the green manure get too tall, then once it has grown to a few inches high in early spring, chop it down then plough it in.  Leave a couple of weeks before sowing seed, as the initial breakdown process robs nitrogen from the soil for a while, before returning it.  Established plants can go in straight away.

The benefits of green manure include protecting the soil, especially over winter, adding bulky humus, adding various nutrients to the soil, improving soil texture and suppressing the weeds.

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pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Green manure
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2015, 07:10:47 am »

Quote
I'm not sure what you mean by a 'mucky plant', but if you mean it pops up everywhere from root sections (doesn't seed) then yes.  I grow it just the other side of some fences so the sheep can nibble the leaves but not destroy the plant.  I also have a large patch which I allow to flower for the bees, but if I'm late chopping it down and composting it after that, then it can be a bit messy, as the flower stems fall flat.  You can cut it 4 times a year and still keep it growing.

Exactly...mucky.. weeding it is a nightmare :)

Quote
For overwintering green manures, grazing rye produces a lot of bulk, and should be fairly cheap to buy.  We left ours a bit too long, because we wanted to see how tall it would grow (over 6'  :o ) and to produce a grain crop.  By then it was almost impossible to chop the roots, so the lesson learned was to chop it down when about 6" tall, allow to wilt, then turn it in.

For raising the nutritional levels of your soil by the use of green manure, what about field beans (coarse broad beans grown for animal feed), brassicas (any, including grazing rape), agricultural lupins which bring nutrients up from very deep down?  Also, mix in any left over vegetable seeds with your overall mix, such as peas, garden brassicas, sunflowers (bird seed), even lettuce.  Whatever you choose, you want bulk, and to think about the nutrients each plant will bring.

I'm after cheap seed that can go in now, plough in autumn so i can deal with any inevitable weeds too. What I don;t want is brassicas attracting more cabbage whites..more a case of bulk and ground cover. Ive bee improvng the soil with chicken waste, cow dung and woodchip for the last three seasons and it's pretty good consistency. A single crop runs the obvious risk of failure to germinate since I can't drill the seed - it'll be broadcast and raked or chained in.

If you can point me to a cheap source of seed for a mere 1/4 acre then appreciate it... my thoughts above wee based on being able to buy Kg quantities of organic food seed that likely wont have been manipulated to avoid germination...

Quote
The benefits of green manure include protecting the soil, especially over winter, adding bulky humus, adding various nutrients to the soil, improving soil texture and suppressing the weeds.

Exactly.

Dan

  • The Accidental Smallholder
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  • Joined Oct 2007
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Re: Green manure
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015, 08:51:11 am »
We've used buckwheat on a smaller scale very successfully.

You'll need about 5kg for a 1/4 acre, 10kg for 30 delivered here:

http://www.bostonseeds.com/products/11/Forage-Crops/83/Green-Manuring-Crops/#product758

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Green manure
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2015, 09:39:55 am »
I'd looked at boston seeds..usual issue is smallest pack size is 2-4 times what i need and it doesn't work out cheap when non-commercial (as opposed to tax deductable). If one plans on making up a mixture then unless storing seed for future years gets pricey...let alone the waste when broadcast compared to drilled.

 

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