Managing Your Allotment - Sowing and Growing Green Manure
Green Manure - sown to improve soil fertility and structure - after main crops have been harvested in late Summer and Autumn.
Green manures are plants that do not deliver crops to eat - but are intended to improve soil quality.
They can be sown and grown on vacant beds - that have either finished cropping or are being left fallow for a season.
Usually sown in late Summer or early Autumn after crops have been harvested and main crops cleared..
Fallow beds are those that have been deliberately left empty of crops - to restore fertility to the soil - or sometimes because time and resources do not allow sowing or planting of crops. Green manures here help to suppress weeds as well as adding to soil quality.
They are then cut down in Winter or Spring - and depending on variety - dug into the bed or added to the compost bin.
Green manures vary in terms of benefits - the main ones are:
Improving fertility by fixing nitrogen (bean varieties).
Suppressing pests by fumigatng the soil (mustard varieties).
Attracting bees (flowering varieties).
Holding nutrients in the soil by preventing washout by rain.
Improving soil structure - when dug in.
Additional material for the compost bin.
I use green manures to cover beds that have been harvested by mid Summer - particularly where I've grown broad beans and early potatoes. I also use them to provide cover for beds through Winter.
Varieties that you can sow include:
Dwarf French Beans
Green Manures - Gallery - click on any image to enlarge