Green manure over winter – feed your soil

green grass like plants growing in amongst some plants with rounded leaves in a wooden bed

Over this winter, I have been growing green manure. Green manure are plants that enrich the soil that they are growing in. So instead of leaving growing areas bare in winter where you could easily get weeds, you could grow these plants.

After they have been growing for a few months, you can chop them down and leave them to form mulch. Once they have wilted and started decomposing, you can dig it all into the soil. In this way, not only will the green manure plants put the nutrients back but also act as weed control.

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My over winter green manure plants

I bought a packet of seeds of a mixture of two types of green manure plants, namely rye and vetch. Once I had harvested all the onions and chillies in late autumn, I sowed these seeds in two of my raised beds. You can read about this in my October post.

a packet of seeds that says green manure winter mix with details on what is in it
My green manure packet of seeds
hand holding round black seeds mixed with thin small stick like seeds, in the sun
Rye and vetch seeds that I sowed in autumn

They grew well over the winter months and really undemanding. As spring is nearing, I decided to cut it down in mid February.

plants with long thin blades growing in a wooden bed with plants with rounded leaves
Rye and vetch happily growing in the raised bed over winter
a bed with green plants that has chopped green plants in it
Cut green manure left to wilt on top as mulch

This was a very simple task with my pair of pruners. I left all the chopped parts of the plants on top the raised beds and have now covered them with a plastic sheet. This will help the green manure to decompose quickly.

I am looking forward to digging it all in, in a few weeks in preparation for the spring sowing. There have been no weeds in these two beds. In addition, the soil in these beds will have more nutrients to offer.

Green manure options

It is not only over winter that you can plant green manure. You can  also sow green manure during the rest of the year too. If you have a bare patch in your garden, you can sow these seeds and your soil will benefit from it.

I am going to try fenugreek which can be sown in the warmer months. It is also a good green manure by adding nutrients and keeping the weeds away. Not only that, it is also a tasty leaf vegetable that can be added to most curries and spiced flatbreads.

plants with rounded leaves growing in a terracotta coloured pot in the sunshine
Fenugreek plants I grew as a winter vegetable

This year, I have been growing fenugreek as a winter vegetable in the cold greenhouse successfully. So I will continue by looking at bare spaces this spring and summer. As soon as I have a space in my raised beds, I will be sprinkling some fenugreek seeds!

Buy your seeds:

Garden Organic also have more helpful information if you would like to know more about green manures.

Does this tempt you to have a go?

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