Using Green Manure: Enriching Soil Naturally

EEdgar March 9, 2024 7:01 AM

Green manure is a term that might not be familiar to new gardeners. In essence, it's a method of enriching the soil by growing and then plowing under certain beneficial plants. This practice improves the health and fertility of your garden soil, making it a great natural fertilizer.

What is Green Manure?

Green manure is a crop that is grown specifically to be plowed back into the soil. This crop is usually a legume or grass, and it's grown to enrich and condition the soil. The term 'green manure' comes from the fact that these crops are green when plowed under, and they enrich the soil similar to the way manure does.

Benefits of Green Manure

Green manure crops have numerous benefits for both the soil and the garden.

  1. Soil Improvement: Green manure crops improve the structure of the soil, increasing its water-holding capacity and making it easier for plant roots to penetrate deeply.
  2. Nutrient Addition: These crops add essential nutrients to the soil, improving its fertility.
  3. Weed Control: Because green manure crops grow quickly and densely, they can outcompete weeds for resources, reducing the need for weeding.
  4. Disease and Pest Control: Some green manure crops can suppress certain soil-borne diseases and pests.

Best Plants for Green Manure

Different plants are used as green manure for various reasons, such as their ability to fix nitrogen, deep roots for soil structure improvement, or their fast growth for weed suppression. Here are some common green manure crops:

  • Legumes: Clover, alfalfa, and beans are examples of legumes used as green manure. They are excellent at fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and adding it to the soil.
  • Grasses: Oats, rye, and barley are grasses used for their deep roots which improve soil structure and water retention.
  • Mustards: Mustard plants are used for their pest and disease-suppressing properties.

How to Use Green Manure

  1. Prepare the Soil: Start by preparing your garden soil. Remove any existing plants and weeds and loosen the soil with a garden fork.
  2. Choose Your Crop: Choose a green manure crop that suits your soil and climate conditions.
  3. Plant the Crop: Sow the seeds of your chosen green manure crop. Water them well and let them grow.
  4. Turn the Crop: Once the crop has grown and before it seeds, turn it back into the soil using a spade or garden fork.

Using green manure is a sustainable and efficient way to enrich your soil naturally. Whether you're growing a veggie garden or flower beds, green manure can significantly improve the health and fertility of your soil, leading to healthier, thriving plants.

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