Are you familiar with green manures? They are part of a large family of manures and can be used to cover the soil in winter or planted in fallow croplands during other seasons. Green manures have numerous and interesting benefits for the vegetable garden all across its life cycle. Let’s learn everything about them!
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GREEN MANURES
Green manures are divided into different families.
Let’s start with the Fabacea group, also called Leguminosae. These plants repair and synthesize nutrients in the soil while loosening it and enriching it with nitrogen. Depending on the type of soil you have, you can choose between:
- White lupin which suits all soils except limestone soils
- Crimson clover which is ideal in light soil
- White clover which will be perfect to combat agricultural runoff in winter
- Vetch which will lighten heavy soils and enrich poorer soils
Poaceae are another group of green manures. These plants are resistant to frost, so they can be dug in later. They also provide a good input of carbon. Forage Rye (or Hungarian grazing) grows in spring and its roots go deep and fight adventitious efficiently. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye. It can be sown late in the year and has purifying properties for the soil.
Brassicaceae fight adventitious and can harvest minerals. Rapeseed (or colza) is part of this family as is the field mustard which is a good phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen builder. The Brassica rapa grows very fast and can be dug in only thirty days after being seeded. Forage radish is also great for the soil and scares off nematodes. What are nematodes? They are small worms which live in water in the ground and feed with plant sap which can prevent the plant from growing.
Among other families of plants, the phacelia can be sowed late in the year as it grows quickly. It attracts insects and increases microbial fauna while increasing nitrogen. Buckwheat is perfect in poor and acid grounds as it fertilizes them with nitrogen and phosphorous.
BENEFITS OF GREEN MANURES
Green manures are plants used periodically to cover the soil in the vegetable garden when it is not cultivated in order to limit agricultural runoff and progression of adventitious. Green manures are often sowed in autumn, in ground has been turned over (with a tiller for example). They remain within the soil all winter long and are either cut or dug in before they set seed.
These manures improve the soil while restructuring and enriching it. They capture and fix nutritive elements in the ground. Some of them stimulate biological activity, some attract insects and others scare off parasites such as nematodes. Green manures must be selected according to the type of soil, the season of the year and what your goals for the soil are.
CUTTING OR DIGGING IN GREEN MANURES
Green manures must be cut in order to be used as mulch or be dug back into the ground before they set seed. According to the specie and the type of soil, use a shear, a scythe, a trimmer or even a mower.
If the roots are deep, do not hesitate to use the Mantis tiller which will help you to dig deeply when working the soil in spring.
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