Green manure in the garden: when and how to practice it

Green manure in the vegetable garden: all the information necessary to reinvigorate the vegetable garden through green fertilization.

The green manure it is a rather ancient cultivation practice which consists in sowing certain plants capable of regenerating the soil in the rest areas of the garden; this procedure will favor a good quantity of organic mass which if left in the earth will turn into fertile humus.

These plants also have the ability to protect the earth from excessive rainfall, then, once decomposed, they will stimulate its biological activity. The green manure it can be practiced both in winter and in spring. The green manure it is practiced above all in organic farming, it is not necessarily practiced in large dimensions, it can perfectly adapt even to small plots.

When to practice green manure

The practice of green manure it must be done at the right time, that is, when the main crop has already been harvested in the garden or before a new sowing. In summary, the green manure it is done when you need to prepare the soil and enrich it with nutrients.
The green manure it is also ideal when an uncultivated land needs to be transformed into a crop or a small vegetable garden. In short, the poor soil will appear invigorated and ready for new crops.

Green manure in the vegetable garden, legumes

Among the plants most used for green fertilization we have legumes; this is the case of lupine, clover, vetch, fodder pea, alfalfa and field beans. Legumes are able to store nitrogen from the air in special root tubercles. Once the plant withers, it is cut and left to degrade in the soil: these tubercles also decompose, thus enriching the soil with nitrogen. As we have already mentioned, the variety of legumes is quite wide so it is good to choose the ones that best suit your soil and your climate. L'alfalfa and the sainfoin are best suited for calcareous soils, while the lupine prefers the more sandy and acidic ones, then there is the clover which resists the cold better and the vetch which instead loves the warmth.

Winter green manure in the garden, the grasses

Other plants used for the green manure they are the grasses; this is the case of rye, wheat and oats, which work the soil more deeply thanks to their long roots. If you combine legumes and grasses you will have a good mix: together, in fact, they work perfectly, both for protection from the cold and for resistance to lack of water. In cold areas, the grasses that develop quickly will be able to protect the legumes from frost, vice versa in the warmer months, the leguminous plants by covering the soil more evenly with their leaves, will better tolerate drought. For further information:green manure of legumes.

Green manure in the garden, cruciferous

Another noteworthy family for green fertilization is the cruciferous family, known to us above all for cabbages, but mustard, rapeseed and horseradish also belong to it. Crucifers are mainly used when time is short, as they are able to produce a good amount of green mass in a short time.

Other green manure plants

Buckwheat also lends itself very well to green manure technique, because it grows in a flash (about 12 weeks) and inhibits the growth of other weeds.
In smaller gardens it is preferable to sow spinach, lamb's lettuce or watercress, because their numerous roots allow to refine the soil well as well as enrich it with nitrogen, but at the same time, being vegetables they also produce a good harvest!

Green manure in the vegetable garden, the indications

Once sown the plants for the green manure, water them regularly and bring them to almost complete development, also mowing them if necessary

In the case of legumes, intervene before the flowers develop, so as not to reduce the amount of nitrogen that otherwise is used to ripen the seeds.
Bury the vegetables when they are slightly wilted but not dry: a few hours of detachment will be enough, between mowing and burial.

Bury at least one month before sowing the new plants: the time it takes for the nutrients to disperse in that part of the soil. Do not buried deeply: a few cm are sufficient, of the order of 10 or 15.

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