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Using Green Manure

Using green manure

I have taken on one-third of an allotment located at the Recreation Ground.  A full sized allotment is just too much for me, although someone else has just done that and made a marvellous job of reclaiming it from years of disuse.  I started nearly two years ago and grew potatoes on it for the first year.  The first early and second early crops were relatively successful.  The same could not be said for the main crop, on which I had started out with high hopes.  Quite what went wrong, I am not sure, but I suspect lack of fertility played a part, so I decided to manure the plot using the traditional method of green manure.  It was, and still is, an experiment.

I started sowing my crop of Phacelia tanacetifolia, ( sorry, there is no common name that I know of), at the start of October last year and completing it by the end of October.  Here is a photo I took of the crop in mid-April this year:

The fork is there to show the height of the mature crop, nearly a metre.  It was just about to flower and by all accounts once the flowers go to seed it becomes highly invasive, so I was glad that I have been digging it in over time.

The idea behind green manure has been used for a long time by farmers when they used to sow nitrogenous crops lie red clover, as well as field beans and even radish to plough into the soil.  Not only does this incorporate nutrients but also the organic plant material is useful in building up the worm population.  I have noticed that this is already happening on the areas where I have dug some weeks ago.  Before incorporation I only saw a worm on rare occasions, now they keep cropping up.

I hope to report in more detail later in the year when my onions and flowers have been raised.

Chris Coke

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