Back in October one of our members started his own green manures trial with autumn sown crops. Now the weather has perked up, we re-join Russ to see how his plants have fared.
About a week ago I got up the plot on my daily exercise for the first time since all the rain (remember when that was all we had to worry about?). To recap, I had sown autumn crops of Mustard for its leguminous ‘nitrogen-fixing’ abilities, Italian Rye Grass for improving soil structure and Tares for a test of non-leguminous overwintering. Results have been very dramatic – as you can see from the picture: Mustard has done brilliantly, Rye Grass rather poorly, and no sign of the Tares whatsoever! This bears out my hunch that I’d sown the seed rather too late in the year, which was then compounded by a very wet season.
I have now hoed off the green manures that did make it overwinter to allow the nutrients from the crops to go back into the soil, effectively ‘feeding’ it, before planting crops for harvesting later on. You’ll see I’ve left the hoe-ings as a mulch to cover the soil and help protect it – I’m relying on soil creatures to process the cuttings.
The weather has been perfect for spring sowing, so I made the most of my visit and sowed 2 rows each of: Phacelia for attracting insects, Buckwheat reportedly good for poor soils and Red Clover – a nitrogen fixing legume. You’ll see that I’ve sown these ones outside next to some other legumes – broad beans (field beans) – that I planted in October (the taller plants) and some I had sown indoors in February. Now I can sit back and watch for their progress – and keep them watered if this dry spell continues.