Why Grow Green Manures?

The reason for sowing and growing green manures is that they are an easy and environmentally friendly way of improving both soil fertility and the organic content. Grow them on any vacant patch of garden at any time of year however they are most effective when sown in autumn and left over winter.

So, what are the benefits of growing green manures:

– The plants will form a dense matt that will suppress weeds
– Some plants used will absorb nitrogen and transfer it from their roots into the soil
–  Replaces soil nutrients and the organic content and structure
– Prevents nutrients from being washed away by rain and snow
– Provides shelter for beneficial insects and some plants, e.g. clover, will provide food for bees
– Reduces the need to use chemical fertilisers

Green manures are very easy to use. Just select the right one for your purpose and then sow the seed wherever ground will be vacant for 6 weeks or more. Then dig the plants into the soil and leave the area for about 3 weeks before planting. This enables the green manure plants to breakdown and work their magic in the soil.

At this time of year Suttons recommends using a general, winter or intercrop mix.

General Mix
For improving soil fertility. The mix contains Rye, Vetch, Italian Ryegrass and Forage Pea, making it suitable for general use. Sow March-June, July-October. Dig in May-August, March-April of the following year.

Winter Mix
Specially formulated for sowing August-mid October and for leaving over winter. Then dig the plants in between the following February and April. The longer you can leave it the better. The winter mix contains rye and vetch.

Intercrop Mix
Designed to grow alongside your main crops especially brassicas, leeks and sweet corn. Intercrop Mix improves soil fertility and also control weeds. Contains: Yellow Trefoil and White Clover. Sow April-September; dig in September and March-April of the following year.

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