2 Klarides Village Drive
What is a green manure?
|Green manure is plants that have been grown so that they can be chopped up and incorporated into the soil for the benefit of the food crop that you plan to grow in that area.|
Clover and buckwheat are two popular green manures, but there are many.
Clover roots host nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Chopping the clover into the soil releases nitrogen in a form that plants can take up. Buckwheat is said to make phosphorus more plant-available.
Using green manures gets the best results when you can take some time, like a year or two, growing the green manure crop in the garden plot before planting the food crop.
I use buckwheat (which is not wheat) as a green manure in the garlic patch. Right after harvest, I loosen the soil, add compost and cottonseed meal, and sow buckwheat seeds. They germinate within a few days, and rapidly grow to about a foot and a half, or two feet tall. They have precious little white flowers that the bees seem to love.
I have read warnings that you should not let the buckwheat produce seed (this happens soon after flowering), because they will become a weed in the garden bed. That has not happened to me. I think it is because I have enough little seed predators in the area, that they scarf up most of the seeds. The ones left sprout, and are easy to knock over and turn in to the soil again.