I have never grown a green manure before and am not clear, from what I
have read, as to how exactly I should dig in the crop before it reaches
Does 'digging in' simply mean turning the soil over with a fork to
incorporate as much as possible of the top-growth into the top 4 to 6
inches? If I do that, won't it continue growing and sprout up again?
Or do I use a spade and start trenching and totally bury the growth
from one trench-line into the bottom of the previous trench-line? - sort
of like double digging. If so, that does sound like a lot of work.
Just turn it under, a spading fork is fine. If it sprouts and regrows
turn it under again.
Which crop are you using for green manure?
Because you just might have time for a second or third sowing before
For example if you are turning under clover or beans now you could sow
buckwheat and turn that under and then sow winter rye.
IF you dig, do it about three weeks before you plan to plant.
IF you're going to dig, work it into the top 8" - 24" of soil.
IF you are going to dig, this is a good method to do ONCE but not
My preferred method is to cut it and leave it lie. Then mulch over
the cut plants. Wait two to three weeks and plant. This is a very
modified form of lasagna gardening
ening.aspx> and it is a no dig approach to gardening. If you are worried
about reemergence of the "green manure" or weeds, layer black and white
news print over your planting area. If your soil is very hard and
compact you may want to digthe "green manure" in the first time
(I'd use a garden fork to reduce damage to the worms) or use some
buckwheat or rye in combination with a nitrogen fixing plant like
beans, or peas, or clover, or alfalfa.
Rye and buckwheat can put an incredible amount of organic material
into the soil as roots. Every year will just get better ;O)
I couldn't tell you but I'll never grow green cover crops again. I switched
to sheet composting with shredded yard and garden waste and piles of leaves.
All are turned under in early spring with fertilizer and the gardens tilled
a few times before being planted. First in are the lettuce, collards and
I think you probably need to grind the cover crop and dig into the soil
so that it could decompose more quickly. Infact if organic matter
decompose too slowly, it can activate anaerobic processes in the soil
that could impair the following crop.
In such way you increase the content in organic matter.
Another thing you need to be carefull to is the C/N ratio: if the
organic matter N content is not enough, the same organic matter can
reduce the N content in the soil little by little during the
At a same time you must consider that cover crop and green manure is
often practiced during wintertime, a season in which rain usually wash
away many mineral elements from the soil, so that green manuring during
this season is anyway a good practice to prevent this loss of nutrient
elements from the soil.
I hope this could help,
All that stuff you say about C/N ratios just drives me crazy, I don't
understand a word of it.
Me, I have a lot of ground that will be spare over the winter. I just
want to know how to go about simply sowing green manure and digging it
But you're making it sound too complex for me , ,,,,,,,,,,,maybe I just
leave the soil bare.
I'm sorry Ed, I will try to explain it better:
You can use different green manures: the better you can use are fodder
crops (Leguminous plants): they will cover the soil during the fall
(autumn) (-> cover-crops) and prevent the washing away of nutrientsand
Before the crop will flower you need to mow, grind an dig it in the soil
so that it could decompose little by little.
This green manure will increase the content of organic matter and also
the N content because leguminous plants store high levels of nitrogenum
in their tissues.
When they decompose they generate a humus with low C/N (very good is C/N
= 10) ratio. If you, on the contrary, use, for example, the wheat straw,
you will have a compost with high C/N ratio.
This fact will cause humus balance its N content taking it from the soil
so that the plants, next, will probably suffer from N hunger.
So mow it, grind it and dig it not too deep in the soil, because in that
case, if the soil clay content is very high (as frequently happens in
certain places), you will risk the manure fermentate and generate toxic
compounds. Infact the organic matter needs oxygen during is composting
to generate a good compost/humus.
If it is Winter Rye mowed after about April 15 (Zone 6) it will all be dead
as a door nail in about 3 days. If the sun is shining, there won't be any
traces of green. The stubble will look like wheat straw.
When planting, I've read that you should plant the seed
under 1 1/2 times its' diameter in dirt. With that in mind I
would use small seeds to reduce the work (clover, rye, buckwheat,
ect.) On the other hand, if your field needs to be mowed,
cast your seeds just after cutting it. If it doesn't need to be
mowed, you could mulch it, and then sow your seeds. Last year,
I just cast mine into the mulch, and it worked. Nature doesn't dig
her seeds in ;O)
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