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Green manure

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Green manure

Post  Odd Duck on 10/4/2010, 5:18 pm

I know there was a thread started (before we got a "compost" section), but search is not finding it for me.

Does anyone else have experience doing this? I know someone else is trying it, but can't remember who it was and haven't heard back from them with any comments or thoughts.

This is the basic wiki info.

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Re: Green manure

Post  Old Hippie on 10/4/2010, 5:27 pm

I am trying a green manure crop this year and I think it was quiltbea that is trying it also. I have absolutely no idea whether it will do anything at all here in my zone.....which is a 3b but I figured it was worth a try. In my potato patch I planted hairy vetch. It is supposed to be good for fixing nitrogen in the soil and then of course adding organic matter to the soil as well when I till it under. The one thing I know is that you should NOT let hairy vetch flower or go to seed as it is difficult to get rid of but it is one plant that was supposed to be hardy enough for my zone. I just don't know if it will have enough time to do anything this fall or in the spring before it is time to plant.


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Re: Green manure

Post  Megan on 10/4/2010, 7:21 pm

Back when I thought I would be doing a real SFG next year in the same place as my current beds (argh!) I was looking into winter cover crops. A local friend who grew up on a farm and is also SFG'ing, gave me a reality check. His concern was how does one turn under a fairly densely rooted, tall crop, in a SFG box (no rototiller!) and that it would be tough to do it by hand. I don't have any good counter-argument for that, but I still like the idea. Has anyone tried to turn it under by hand while the growth is still small?


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Re: Green manure

Post  boffer on 10/4/2010, 7:39 pm

Thanks, Megan, that's the main reason I have tended to ignore green manure whenever the subject has come up on the forum: more work-and I don't want to go there.

But I went to the link OD posted and learned a lot. It lists five functions of a green manure. To my way of thinking, the SFG method of adding compost when replanting accomplishes the same functions, to one degree or another. I don't see enough benefits to justify the extra work and mess.


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Re: Green manure

Post  Chopper on 10/4/2010, 8:06 pm

Although I understand the concept of green manure, I do not understand it vis a vis an SFG. Can you tell me how you process it when it is time to plant? That is what I can't figure out.

...Ah, when I posted this I did not see Megan and Boffer's questions. Apparently it is all the same one. Has anyone done it and lived to tell the tale?


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Re: Green manure

Post  Odd Duck on 10/7/2010, 12:49 pm

That's what I'm hoping to hear about, someone's actual experience.

My plan is to turn the plants while they're still pretty small. I'll just use a shovel and flop things over, not try the break them up initially. Depending on how fast these fava beans grow, I may do some hairy vetch also. Letting it grow only a short time before I turn it. I think the fava bean plants previously turned will be rotted enough to break up nicely by the time I turn the hairy vetch (if I get that far). My goal is to have the soil mix "activated" before I plant my asparagus, in particular, since it will stay there for decades.

My frustration with my previous beds was that the first season had very poor growth and production initially, better later in the season and the second year was much better. The third bed I used much more diverse supplements when I started it and it did better from the start. I want to make sure I get this bed right from the beginning so I'm not chasing problems with a crop that I really can't just lift and supplement and replant because asparagus doesn't like to be disturbed. I did it once already with the few plants I have now and it really set them back. I'll be disturbing those plants again when I move them, I'll also be adding more plants and then I have to wait, and wait, and wait (the biggest problem with asparagus). So this bed needs to be right. Oh, I also have worm tubes in place already, trying to get worm populations up fast.

If anyone has any other thoughts and recommendations for me, experience growing asparagus (especially in N. Texas), I'm listening.

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Re: Green manure

Post  CarolynPhillips on 10/7/2010, 8:09 pm

I don't have the books that I use to have-- but from memory---you can apply
"cotton seed meal" to the surface of your asparagus bed and scratch it into the soil as deep and the best you can. Cotton Seed Meal is organic nitrogen. The bags of cotton seed meal that I get from the local Co-Op is 6-0-0. or maybe it's 6-1-0. something like that.
Assuming you are after an Organic Nitrogen source for your asparagus bed.

Works great in all beds but if you want some nitrogen for free----just hoe in some fresh unseeded Green grass clippings. It serves the same purpose that you want from the green manure crops------plus you don't have to break it down to turn it over or all that other stuff.


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Re: Green manure

Post  Odd Duck on 10/7/2010, 8:51 pm

My goal is less about the nitrogen (although that's part of it) and more about getting some growth of commensal soil organisms - fungi, bacteria, earthworms, etc, that plant growth puts into the soil and that plants need to perform at their best. I've added loads of stuff already - the bulk of the soil mix I used is twice-manured, very mixed-source, home-made compost. I also added plenty of organic fertilizer, blood meal, bone meal, dried molasses, etc, to maximize plant growth right from the start (I also add these to my compost as I layer it initially and during at least 1 turning). I will use the organic fertilizer again when I plant the asparagus crowns and the strawberries.

I guess I'll see how much of a pain it is to turn under this first green manure and decide from there if I have the energy or the time to do the second crop before putting in the asparagus. I'll keep you all posted as things go along.

Thanks, everyone for the input, and feel free to make any other suggestions.

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Re: Green manure

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