Green manures are a range of seeds that are sown specifically to improve or assist with soil fertility and/or the conditioning of soil.
The reason for sowing and growing green manures is that they are an easy and environmentally friendly way of improving both soil fertility and 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 leftover winter.
What is Green Manure?
Green manures are a range of seeds that are sown specifically to improve or assist with soil fertility and/ or the conditioning of soil. They are not harvested for food, and are not allowed to flower. Depending on the species they either “lift” any surplus nitrogen that is in the soil and hold it there within the host plant i.e. – which would otherwise be lost through drainage, until the host material is incorporated back into the soil or they “fix “the nitrogen by taking up the nitrogen from the air and holding it in nodules that grow on the host plant’s roots and are released when the host plant is incorporated back into the soil.
The main benefit of growing Green Manure is its’ ability to fix or lift nitrogen into your soil. Why is this good?
Nitrogen Deficiency results in stunted / slow growth – this often occurs when the soil has been heavily used to grow crops. Recent studies have shown that overall there has been a fall in soil fertility. This natural crop can only benefit your garden or allotment!
There are certain types which hold nitrates in your soil for current crops to use and others which take nitrogen from the atmosphere and stores it in their roots for digging in for subsequent crops.
The Benefits of Growing Green Manures
So, what are the benefits of growing green manures:
- Bigger, more prolific crops – green manures will lift or fix nitrates into your soil to provide this essential element for your harvests.
- Easier digging – deep rooting green species can help to loosen and aerate soil
- Reduce the need to use chemical fertilisers – environmentally friendly
- Less weeding – Assists with keeping weeds down!
- Less chemical pest control – Helps control pests and provides shelter for beneficial insects
- Can suppress soil-borne pest and diseases