Green Manures Organic Cover Crops

March 12, 2016 in Fertiliser by Christine

Green Manures Organic Farming

what do green manures do to the soil ground earthOrganic green cover crops used in gardening, daylilies and vegetables avoids the use of chemical fertilisers and depends on green manures to improve the fertility and organic nutrients in the soil. A soil having at least 5% of organic matter is considered as healthy. It is vital to have the organic matter in the soil for the proper growth of the crop plants and for better yield from plants.

How to Grow Green Manures?

There are different ways to grow green manures for soil fertility. There are green manure plants which can be grown in warm season and some other plants that can be grown in the cool season. You can grow the green manure plants whenever the bed is empty after a harvest. The timing of sowing the seeds should be planned so that the soil will have the right temperature to sprout the seeds. It is necessary to provide at least 8 weeks time for the green manure plants to grow and at least another six weeks for the chopped down plants to decompose before trying to plant another crop.

Types of Plants Used for Green Manure Crops

Cool Season Plants for Green Manure

The plants that can be grown in cool season to use as green manure are: fenugreek, fava bean, BQ mulch, lupins, oats, subs clover, etc. In Southern Australia, where the winters are very cold, it is necessary to sow the seeds in early March and in early spring. In Queensland area, the sowing can wait till April or May. In the case of frost free zones, the seeds can be sown till August.

Warm Season Plants for Green Manure

The warm season green manure plants include: soybean, cowpea, buckwheat, mung bean, lablab, Japanese millet, etc. You can plant this green manure after the frost passes in spring. The ideal time will be mid- September.

How Green Manure is Used in the Garden?

Green manures are the best option to maintain the soil quality in the garden or in crop lands.

  • When incorporated into the garden soil, they improve the soil fertility
  • The garden soil will retain moisture and from here be helpful in resisting drought conditions
  • Since the green manure covers the ground, it prevents the growth of other weeds
  • The green cover provided by the manure plants dug into soil prevents soil erosion and allows the nutrients to leach into the soil.

How Long Before You can Use a Garden Bed that has Green Manure?

After you cut and incorporate the green manure plants into the soil, you need to churn the soil and leave the plants to decompose for at least 4-6 weeks before planting the summer crops. Usually the crops will decompose faster from the period starting from late October to early November. If the spring period is colder it may take more time to decompose the green manure.

What do Green Manures do to the Soil?

The green manure improves the humus content of the soil and provides more agricultural sustainability. Apart from this, some green manure plants can act as bio-fumigants and helps in reducing soil-borne diseases. It can break up hard clay soil and improve water retention and increase the oxygen present in the soil. Some legume plants are capable of increasing the nitrogen content, and some other plants can increase the phosphorus content.

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