feeding the soil with green manure

October 24, 2009 at 11:00 am 9 comments

Green manure packets‘Getting your onions in?’.  ‘Got your garlic ready?’ have been popular questions asked at the allotment in the last few weeks.  ‘I need to give something back before I sow anything else‘ I’ve been saying almost apologetically to clarify my head shake reply.  You see I’ve worked my plot for 5 years and never really gone in for manuring in a big way.  I know that I should but when your plot is in the furthest possible corner from the road and you refuse to drive your car on to the allotment your not left with a lot of options.  Believe me I know:  a morning back in 2005 spent schlepping back and forth to drag bags of horse manure, in the pouring rain, kind of put me off.  Instead we leave an area of the plot covered in black polythene each year which rests the soil and rotates where we plant.  In truth it’s also because I have more space than I’ve ever managed to keep on top of.  But with more time for gardening this year and a massive increase in produce as a result I thought it was time to nourish the soil we have worked and manure the patch we haven’t.  Green manure seedsI’ve been reading up on green manures*, particularly the varieties that can be sown as late as October/November.  These packets of Hungarian grazing rye and field beans arrived from the Organic Gardening Catalogue a couple of days after placing my order (the Red Clover is for the Spring.)   It may seem extravagent to buy organic seed for plants that won’t be consumed but I figure it’s akin to the choice between putting wholefoods or processed foods into our bodies.  And, get this, it was the cheapest option for the variety of seeds I’d chosen because the P&P was only £1.75 compared to £5 from other on-line suppliers.  Sowing grazing rye

The feeding of the soil commenced last week with the sowing of the grazing rye on the blighted tomato patch.  It took about an hour and half to dig the rest of the weeds out (started the weekend of rain and muffin making), about the same time to remove the runner bean canes and a couple of the sprout stalks and a further hour to sow the seeds in drills.  MOSAIC - digging tom patch for green manureI liked the idea of a biblical broadcasting of seed but not the idea of birds pecking it up before it germinated hence the rather tedious sowing in drills.  Fortunately it was a fresh and bright autumn day and the task was made easier with the company of Radio 4 and a flask of tea.  shadow tea drinking

*  reading – the goodness of green manure, about green manure: five to try, things to do in October, (especially relevant to the green manure seeds I planted)

Entry filed under: allotment tales.

making spiced damson chutney National Apple Day in Gloucester

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. miss m  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Mmmm, soil amendment. I think I love prep and clean-up work as much as anything else (if not more). I’m using a cover crop for the first time (Fall rye). What a simple and lovely way to amend to soil. (Beats hauling bags for sure !)

    ps. Love the cup & shadow !! 😀

  • 2. Nip it in the bud  |  October 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    we’ll have to compare rye crop photos as it grows. Definitely beats hauling bags and like the idea of digging it into the soil come spring (the tops you cut off are good for the compost too).
    The shadow tea drinking was funny, even if I do look like I’ve got a square chin (which is actually the camera!)

  • 3. Kirsten  |  October 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Love the shadow picture, very clever! envious that you have a plot. I’ve just moved to L.A. and plots are hard to come by! Looking forward to seeing the results.

  • 4. alifelesssimple  |  October 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Not long after we moved in my dad sowed clover as a green manure in what has become the vegetable garden, and we still get clover all over the garden almost 15 years later! It is nice though as if you are not using the ground then it can be left to do it’s thing on it’s own, the bees also love the flowers

  • 5. Ann  |  October 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    We used clover on our veg plot too, it did hang about for a few years but that was ok, the flowers were lovely. I use chicken manure now, the sort in a big tub from the garden centre. The year we used horse manure was a fantastic growing year for us.

    Love the shadow picture, very artistic!!!

  • 6. Ann  |  October 25, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Wish you were next door too Nic, I’d love to have someone to share my baking with!!!

  • 7. mangocheeks  |  October 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Love the shadow picture! It has been raining here all weekend, I don’t know if I will get out to the plot today. I was planning on just a short visit, but the rain and strong howling winds that have knocked down my flat neighbours fence, maybe the sun will come out in a while, lets hope so, other wise that garlic will have to wait until next weekend.

  • 8. Peggy  |  October 26, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    WE had put in a late summer green manure which has now been cut back and left on the ground. I will look up the winter varieties now.Some of the beds have been manured and covered with plastic for the winter, we are lucky in that we have an endless supply of horse manure as there are stables on the land.

  • 9. Nip it in the bud  |  October 27, 2009 at 12:04 am

    what a shame you were rained off MC – was lovely here for the best part of sunday before the rain came from nowhere and drove me off the plot.
    I’ve got clover to sow in the spring as a cover crop but also because I’m keen to dry the flowers for herbal uses. Oh how I wish there were stables on our land here too Peggy


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