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Green Manure the foundation to healthy plants - Creature of Habits

Green Manure the foundation to healthy plants

By Leonie | Earth Friendly Habits

Jul 16

The green manure term gets thrown around a lot these days, and if you want healthy productive edibles you'll have to start today, let me show you the easy steps to green manure for small space gardens.

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What is Green Manure?

Green manure is not stinky like animal manure, instead is the by product of of dead decaying plant matter. Pictured above is my Autumn/Winter green manure that I was planted 1 week before this pic was taken. It grows fast and provides the best foundation for your plants to grow in soil that doesn't have a lot of nutrients.

In my case I purchase store bought potting soil mixture and I know its not always the best option, so before I plant any edibles I prep the soil. Its like renovating a new home that your getting ready to move into.


Types of Green Manure

Just like all plants where they have their optimal growing seasons, green manure is the same too.

They are broken into Autumn/Winter & Spring/Summer....you can from them throughout the 6 month growing season in preparation for your fruits, vegetable and herbs to get the bumper crop that will feed an army. Or have surplus of food to for preserving or gifting to friends and relatives. Your guaranteed a great yield if you green manure your soil first.


Autumn/Winter Green Manure Seeds
  • Fava Beans - Great for building huge amounts of organic matter
  • Fenugreek - Adds heaps of nitrogen and germinates in very cold soil
  • Lupins - Adds plenty of nitrogen, has a tap root so aerates the soil
  • Oats - Helps control Nematodes & produces plenty of organic bulk matter
  • Subclover - Adds nitrogen, can be grown as a living mulch that doesn't need cutting, good for your Blueberries and Bilberries & acid loving plants
  • Wollypod vetch - Great for Tomatoes, provides the most amount of nitrogen and especially great when combined with oats.


Spring/Summer Green Manure
  • ‚ÄčBuckwheat - Provided your soil temp is 20 degrees it'll sprout within 2-4 days
  • Cowpea - Controls nematodes, stacks on the nitrogen and adds organic matter
  • Japanesse Millet - Fast growing, adds nitrogen and organic matter
  • Lablab - Drought tolerant vigorous vine, so good cor small courtyards not pots
  • Millet 'French White' - Works well with legumes, builds soil structure with bulk organic matter
  • Mung Bean - Fast growing, builds lots of organic matter along with nitrogen

Getting started with your green manure

O.k so you've got some heirloom seeds of veggies, herbs and fruit to plant, so why not get them of to a great start with the best soil prep to rival Rudolph Steiner's biodynamic preparations!

You'll need Pots, potting soil, or just soil, not going to get too technical here. And some mulch....more on mulch here.

Directions for Green Manure
  • Place Soil in pot
  • Sprinkle green manure seeds on top of your soil and water in
  • Apply a small layer of mulch to thinly cover your green manure & water in again
  • Allow green manure to grow 4-6 weeks - Set a reminder in your calendar
  • When its time, cut your green manure back above the mulch line before your green manure starts to flower 
  • Press the cut green manure matter into the pot and and put another layer of soil, compost or cow/sheep manure, water in and apply another layer of mulch.
  • Let this sit for another 4-6 weeks to break down so the nutrients become available and your ready to start planting your bumper crop.

Harvesting your Green Manure

The joy of harvesting your green manure will set your heart on fire with pure achievement,  you'll know that deep down your doing something great in preparation for your plants to grow big and strong.

Below is a my terracotta pot with the harvested green manure and home grown compost on top getting ready to sit for 2-4 weeks or until it has decomposed into wonderful nutrient dense organic matter, ready for my strawberries.

About the Author

I believe that we don't have to move away from the city to renew our Earths resources, instead we need to move towards a lifestyle thats healthy for us and our Earth.

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