Knowing the Value of Green Manure Using green manure for a richer fertile soil
A good example of green manure – Phacelia tanacetifolia
For a number of us gardeners out there, experienced as well as newbies, the moment somebody tells us about nourishing the soil, our minds immediately go back straight to the packages of chemical fertilizer that we have bought so recently. And if we are organically minded, we think of the compost that has been decomposing in one corner of our garden, for the past 6 months.
I wrote a book called Feeding the Hungry Soil about how you can feed the hungry side with a large amount of natural compost, leaf compost, poultry manure, and bone meal and other ways in which the soil can replenish the nourishment which it has lost during the growing of your harvest.
If you are interested in knowing more about this particular essential area of helping your garden to grow naturally you can purchase this book on Amazon.
This book is a continuation of how you can keep feeding the land. Naturally, you are going to be using time-tested and timeworn methods, which have been used for millenniums, and which have never poisoned the earth.
Green Manure Experiment
So when I took up the challenge of making that herb garden, for my skeptical Horticulturalist/Agricultural Professor Friend, he grinned, and gave me a patch of land, in the college, which let me tell you was full of sand, absolutely no rich humus, organic fertilizer of any kind and also was chockablock full of pebbles.
He told me that I had the full college from where to take rich soil, I was a bit annoyed. So I got hold of all the 383 students in the college and asked them to begin de-weeding. Initial grumpiness was forestalled by telling them that I had been challenged by their Professor – Professor Know It All – I wanted to prove to him that green manuring was the best way in which one could make the soil fertile and produce a huge bumper crop. They grinned, because showing any professor up in any manner, even through the pathways of knowledge, was meat and drink to them!
Continuous de-weeding is one of the continuous activities of growing a garden…
Taking Care Of the Green Manure Crop
Clover – the best green manure
A green manure crop is after all a crop that you have planted, so it is going to be looked after in the same manner, with which you would look after any ordinary crop of which you expect a really good harvest. If the weather is very dry, and the growth is likely to be poor, you may want to shower the fields with some overhead irrigation.
This is especially necessary on the sandy soil, which is the soil, which is going to perk of the most, the moment you add a little bit of green manure to it. Remember that the younger the plant is, the more quickly it is going to decompose in the ground.
On the other hand, to dig a plant when very young means that there is less bulk. That also means that you are going to end up with less humus. So just wait till the crop is just beginning to seed. In fact, this digging up of the land, and then digging in is best done, when the crop is just beginning to flower. It is after flowering that the general structure of the plant becomes richer in lignin and tougher. That means it is going to be more fibrous, and difficult to decompose. That is because it is going to take longer for the bacteria to work on the plant. However, when it still remained comparatively green and tender, when it was dug in, the bacteria would make it possible that you find the soil ready for cropping the following season.
Types of Green Manures
Cabbage stalks are excellent additions to your land after chopping for easy decomposition.
Green manures are naturally divided into 2 categories. Some of the natural green manures, which belong to the legume family and they are going to build up the nitrogenous nodules in their roots. Peas and beans come in this particular family. Also, Clover, field peas, lupines, and vetches belong to this particular leguminous family. In the non-leguminous family, we are going to find mustard, ryegrass, oats, spinach, and alfalfa.
So if you take the advice of any experienced gardener about the best green manure crop, he is going to tell you to make up a mixture of leguminous and nonleguminous crops. Apart from peas and beans, Clover and alfalfa and ryegrass are going to get the nitrogen in the soil, augmented by one crop and humus forming material is going to increase by the other crop.
That means you have your cake and you are going to be eating it too, no pun intended. If you want to look how Mother Nature manages these things, just go to some land which has not been cultivated and which has been allowed to grow for years. She has definitely not grown just one particular crop there, of weeds or plants, has she? She likes poly culture and not monoculture!
Mustard As a Green Fertilizer
Do not use mustard in gardens where one has already faced Club disease. This normally attacks cruciferous plants. It is a root disease, which is really evil smelling and is also called finger and toe disease. Turnips, cauliflowers, mustard, cabbages, radishes, and other plants of the cruciferous family are going to be affected by this disease. The roots are going to become knotted swollen and distorted. The moment you break them open, you are going to raise a literal stink, figuratively and literally.
The control of this particular disease is done by raising healthy plants free from the disease by disinfecting the seeds before sowing. Also, the beds need to be watered with a Mercuric chloride solution. This is the first time that I am suggesting an artificial chemical, because I have not found any available organic pesticide, which can achieve the same results.
Dissolve one tablet of mercuric chloride, which you are going to get at your nearest nursery, in a quart of water. Give the seedbed a good soaking. Water it again, with the same solution, 14 days later. This is going to be after the seed has been sown. This means that you are going to get healthy plants free from the disease. To prevent their being infected, when they are going to grow, you can also pour an eighth of a point of a similar solution into every hole at planting time.
I remember reading one of the best sellers written by one of my favorite authors named Georgette Heyer. The book is “Black Sheep” and the black sheep of the family comes back to his home to see the ground full of growing grass and hay. Even though he is an aristocrat, he takes off his coat, picks up a Scythe and sets to chopping up that hay. His neighbors are really glad that he has come back to prevent his family home from being overrun with weeds. And he tells them what he has done to that area, overrun with grass, finishing the statement with, “it was the South Lawn in my mother’s time.”
So remember that given a chance, mother nature is going to overrun your land with weeds, and any sort of dormant seeds, which have been left over through previous harvesting of crops, or have reached there through external agencies like wind, water and so on.
Lime in Your Soil
If there is plenty of is it content in your garden, you will have to neutralize that by adding lime to the soil. Also, some plants do not grow, due to a lack of calcium. Just a little bit of lime is going to make them feel energetic again. So remember, that lime is going to wash very quickly through the soil. That is why it needs applying on the surface of the ground. Also, you will need to apply it regularly.
Remember that lime should always be applied to the areas of ground, which you are going to plant with peas and beans and also the members of the cabbage family. Brassica plants love a very heavy dressing of lime and if you are sowing pulses, you may need a light dressing.
In heavy size, lime is going to improve the texture and the workability of the soil, it is also going to help release other plant foods, especially potash. Lime is also excellent in assisting in the decomposition of organic matter. Lime should never be mixed up with acid-based and artificial chemical manures. That is why, you are going to dig in the compost, fork in the sedge peat and the organic fertilizers and then apply the lime on the top surface and rake it in.
Live long And Prosper!