Soil improvement benefits of green manuring with field bean, Phacelia (the bee ally), and clover, as well as the best seed combinations for this purpose, are discussed in this article.
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What is Green Manuring
Green manuring is a soil management technique in which specific plants are grown prior to, between, or after the actual crops are planted. When you hear the term “green manure,” you might assume it’s just fertilizer. However, this could not be further from the truth! It is our goal to demonstrate in this essay the numerous benefits of using green manure in an organic garden and why it should not be omitted.
What are the Advantages of Green Manuring
Green manuring, as previously said, has the potential to naturally enhance the soil’s nutrients. Legume family (Fabacae) plants (previously known as Leguminosae) are excellent candidates for this task. Nodule bacteria, which absorb nitrogen from the air, live in symbiosis with the plants.
Plants can then use nitrogen that has been transformed to a different form by bacteria. Legumes store more nitrogen when left on the bed for an extended period of time. With this method of fertilization, you won’t have to be concerned about nitrogen leaching into the ground and contaminating the water supply.
The nutrients are held in reserve by the green manure plants and released over time. Using green manuring after a high-consumption crop like cabbage is highly suggested.
It can also be used to return nutrients to the soil’s top from deeper soil layers. Deep root depth is a concern for some crops like radishes, lamb’s lettuce, and spinach in particular Nutrients can only be taken up by plants from the top few inches of soil, which quickly depletes.
When it rains on sandy soil, nutrients are swiftly washed away into the deeper layers of the soil. Tap-rooted green manures are beneficial in this regard. Besides loosening the soil, deep-rooted plants also take up nutrients from the deeper layers of the soil.
A gradual release of nutrients into the topsoil is ensured if the green manure is afterward worked into the soil. Green manure must be allowed to stand for a long time in order to achieve its full potential. It will take some time for the plants to establish deep roots in the soil.
Green manuring has other advantages aside from supplying nutrients. Most of the time after harvest, the field is left fallow and barren. Rain, wind, and solar radiation all reach the soil’s exposed surface. These factors have the potential to harm the soil and the life that lives there.
At this moment, green manure is also really beneficial. It boosts soil life and speeds up the breakdown of unhealthy crop leftovers. Green manure also discourages weed development because of the shade it provides.
Adding green manure to your beds can help attract beneficial insects, and after they blossom, bees will appreciate the sweet honey from the flowering plants you’ve planted. The plants should be turned over after flowering to prevent the green manure seeds from maturing. The newly sprouted green manure would act as a weed in the following crop of valuable plants.
Selecting the Green Manure Crop
When deciding on a crop, consider the plant family first. For example, using lupin beans (Fabacae) as green manure after producing bush beans is pointless. Crop rotation illnesses are more likely to occur if the same plant family is consistently planted on a bed. As a result, following a cabbage crop (Brassicaceae) with green manuring is not recommended.
The strengths of each plant family have been summarized again for you below:
Legumes (Fabacae): The use of nitrogen-fixing plants, such as lupine, vetch, and clover, is recommended. You can employ a variety of plants or stick to one type of crop. A clover crop can help enhance humus in a soil that is deficient in it. Clover enrichment, on the other hand, can only last for one season before needing to be replaced with new clover.
Cruciferous plants (Brassicaceae): Green manuring is often represented with mustard and oil radish. Mustard, in particular, spreads rapidly, making it a formidable weed competitor. In order to take nutrients from deeper soil layers, the taproots have evolved to be extremely efficient. Mustard oils also serve as a pesticide and aid in the treatment of worm infections.
Phacelia: This rich, purple-flowered shrub works wonders as a soil conditioner. Phacelia is widely used in green manuring because of this. Crop rotation is not an issue because the plant has no close relatives. The abundance of flowering provides a food source for bees in particular, as the name “bee-lover” suggests.
Green manure is particularly beneficial for preparing the soil for the upcoming growing season. You can learn about fall green manuring by visiting this page.