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Green manure does not come from cows...

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Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  boffer on 7/5/2011, 1:54 pm

Decades ago it was thought that allowing a field to lay fallow (unused) for a year allowed the soil to rest and re-charge itself. After decades of testing, they realized that the soil was actually losing fertility due to wind and water erosion. This is when the idea of implementing cover crops began. Growing cover crops helped to eliminate the erosion issues. That led to the development and use of green manures in between crop cycles. A green manure is any fast growing leafy crop that is turned into the soil to add organic matter, nitrogen, or other nutrients. Cowpeas, soybean, and clover are just a few that are used, depending on climate and needs. The term green manure is often interchanged with the term cover crop,.

Green manures are a very viable method of sustainable organic farming. Especially if you're doing large scale row gardening or farming and you have a tractor or tiller to turn them under. Turning under a hundred square feet in SFG boxes with a trowel would get real old real fast! But every year around this time, some folks start getting antsy because they don't have anything to do in their gardens, and they start looking at green manures as a positive enhancement for their SFG boxes. They just can't leave their old row gardening ways behind.

Once again, the SFG method eliminates another row gardening technique and ensuing work. This table shows that there are a lot of advantages to planting cover crops. It also shows that the properly made Mel's Mix accomplishes the same thing.


ADVANTAGES OF
GREEN MANURES
COMPARABLE
TECHNIQUE IN SFG

1. Improves soil fertility Adding compost
2.
Adds nutrients and
organic matters
Adding compost
3. Improves soil structure Adding compost
4. Improves soil aeration Adding vermiculite and peat
5. Helps control weeds Not a problem or cover with plastic
6.
Improves growth of
beneficial organisms
Adding compost
7. Improves soil aeration Adding vermiculite and peat
8. Prevent erosion Not a problem or cover with plastic
9. Facilitates drainage Adding vermiculite and peat
10. Reduces soil compaction Not a problem

It appears to me that using green manures is a lot of time and effort spent for naught, when the same benefits are gained by adding a handful of compost every time we replant. Tis better to spend your time just sitting in your gardens reflecting on all the work you don't have to do as a SFGer!

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  camprn on 7/5/2011, 2:13 pm

Thanks Boffer!

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Kelejan on 7/5/2011, 2:33 pm

A heartfelt thanks, Boffer. It makes perfect sense. Very Happy

May I ask if this is an original observation by you? If so, then you are a genius. If not, then thank you very much for passing it on.

I had thought about green manuring recently, now I can forget about it completely. Whoo Hoo!

Instead I will spend time on planning for next year; more SFG beds, hoop houses, potatoe boxes, a potager, increasing my stock of strawberries, so many nice things to think about. bounce

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Jay Bird on 7/5/2011, 3:16 pm

Boffer,
When I find myself sitting in the garden with nothing to do! My wife hands me a hammer and says build more !!

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/5/2011, 4:06 pm

I would also argue that adding "cover crops" to a well run SFG is essentially adding weeds, especially clover. Sure, we could just let a square lay fallow for a season, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that does nothing to help an individual square, unless a LOT of birds hit their mark. We can contemplate crop rotation, and I believe that helps....although not entirely necessary. We can introduce greens to the garden like clover and/or some grasses. But, imo, that introduces the very thing you built your SFG to keep out.....weeds. Weeds are unwanted plants, right? Plants that can take over very quickly and crowd out, and steal nutrients from, your crops? Then, why would we do this when we can just add a trowel of blended compost?

Again, I take the easy route. I leisurely walk over to the Heap of Stink, grab a shovel full, and walk back over to the SFG while sipping my iced tea. Grab my trowel, grab a scoop, and pop it in the square. Of course, the next step is the most fun because momma always yelled at me for doing it...........dig in with both hands and give it all a good mix. Done!

The hardest thing about the SFG-preferred technique is cleaning the MM off my glass of iced tea since I have yet to find a way to avoid getting that glass dirty. Cool

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Denese on 7/5/2011, 4:22 pm

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:

The hardest thing about the
SFG-preferred technique is cleaning the MM off my glass of iced tea
since I have yet to find a way to avoid getting that glass dirty. Cool



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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  genes on 7/5/2011, 9:53 pm

Thank you, boofer. I had no idea of the similarities.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  quiltbea on 7/7/2011, 8:11 am

I can attest to the hard work if one adds a cover crop to their boxes.
I tried that experiment last winter.
I sowed winter rye last year and was amazed that when the 2 feet of snow finally melted, there was a stand of tall green grass in its place. The winter rye did not die but kept right on growing.

See the green is most of the beds.....that's winter rye coming up to haunt me.
I checked on possible methods of removal since I don't have a small tiller.
I had to cut back the grass to the soil level and allow the roots to stay to aerate the soil. The dead roots add goodness to the soil. The cut grass is good to leave on top to disintegrate and also add to the soil. If it dries on the top it does not take nutrients away from the soil, but adds them. Its green and fresh that pulls away your good nutrients as it uses them to compost the greenery.

See that long grass here and there? That's more rye grass coming up.
It was a battle thru the spring but I finally got it under control.
Its safe to say I won't be adding winter rye again. Its hard work cleaning up the boxes. Luckily I didn't put it in every box.

I'll just be adding my compost, either from the compost tumblers or my worm condo. And burying some old dry leaves in the beds here and there will feed the worms thru the winter. No more winter rye for me.

If one wants to try a green manure, I would suggest one that dies during the winter months so you don't have fresh grass with which to contend.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  littlesapphire on 8/26/2011, 11:36 am

I know I'm a little late to the show, but I found your post really interesting Quiltbea! Thanks for sharing. I've heard about green manure but really had no idea what it was. I'm glad to know I don't have to worry about it cheers Because it's hard enough keeping the grass under control that wants to grow up from the bottom of the squares.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Mamachibi on 8/26/2011, 11:55 am

It has taken almost a year for me to abandon my dearly held beliefs of traditional farming (laying fallow, cover crops, crop rotation, etc.) and really embrace this square foot thing. It's so different from what I've known all my life.

But I really appreciate you Old-Bees helping this Newbie sort through the traditional ways!

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Chopper on 8/27/2011, 2:38 am

Alternative for the die hards: Plant green manure crops in your lawn. Mow it. Throw the waste into the compost pile. When it come time to replant: Add compost.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  newstart on 12/19/2011, 4:21 pm

Thanks for the information

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  newstart on 12/19/2011, 4:58 pm

@Chopper wrote:Alternative for the die hards: Plant green manure crops in your lawn. Mow it. Throw the waste into the compost pile. When it come time to replant: Add compost.




so all the weeds and clover I have in my yard are a good thing lol! I can tell my dear husband to let the greens grow and then we can compost it

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  plantoid on 12/19/2011, 6:06 pm

There is one big advantage of a green manure in your beds though Boffer and that is giving a boost of growth food to the worms in the bed at the start of an annual growing season cycle if you have them , which in turn makes for valuable worm castings unless of course you want your beds worm free.


Earlier today I've been contemplating about using the kitchen liquidizer to blend up things like non brassica green leaves with water and simply pour some of it down a worm tube . Though I feel I'll have to experiment with a wormery first to see how it attracts various root flies etc. , I might have to let it stand a couple of days to lose some of the attractant odours.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  boffer on 12/19/2011, 6:20 pm

@plantoid wrote:There is one big advantage of a green manure in your beds though Boffer and that is giving a boost of growth food to the worms in the bed at the start of an annual growing season cycle if you have them , which in turn makes for valuable worm castings unless of course you want your beds worm free.

Way too much work for the benefits in my opinion. Worm tubes are easier, and more practical for those with multiple table top boxes.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  boffer on 12/19/2011, 6:24 pm

@newstart wrote:...so all the weeds and clover I have in my yard are a good thing lol!

It's my understanding that clover will show up naturally where there is a shortage of nitrogen. Given enough time, the clover will replentish the nitrogen supply in the soil and then fade away.

That's text book stuff, and I am in the process of finding out if it's true. At least that's my excuse for having a yard full of clover!

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  camprn on 12/19/2011, 6:38 pm

I also leave the clover as it attracts bees to the area near my garden...I don't mow when it is flowering.

____________________________

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  dixie on 12/19/2011, 8:10 pm

@Jay Bird wrote:Boffer,
When I find myself sitting in the garden with nothing to do! My wife hands me a hammer and says build more !!

That is one of the many things that make us so special. Does she also tell you "But all you have to do is..." when telling about her great new idea? DH is having that put on his tombstone.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  RoOsTeR on 12/19/2011, 8:35 pm

"But all you have to do is..."
I give up! I give up! I give up! I give up! I give up!


____________________________


I am my gardens worst enemy.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  Unmutual on 12/20/2011, 7:52 am

@boffer wrote:

It's my understanding that clover will show up naturally where there is a shortage of nitrogen. Given enough time, the clover will replentish the nitrogen supply in the soil and then fade away.

That's text book stuff, and I am in the process of finding out if it's true. At least that's my excuse for having a yard full of clover!

Yep, clovers are legumes and therefor fix nitrogen into depleted soil. That's their job. Think of it as ugly, but free 12-0-0(The 12 is an arbitrary number that sounded good).

And according to this, you're also saving the planet, reducing the use of fossil fuels AND reducing your carbon footprint by allowing it to grow in your lawn.

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  plantoid on 12/20/2011, 11:35 am

@camprn wrote:I also leave the clover as it attracts bees to the area near my garden...I don't mow when it is flowering.

Old country folk lore tale over here is that you get a better pollen production & nectar flow off the second cut of clover .

It seemed like it in my hives and it tasted like it in the honey produced around the time just after the second cut returned to flower.

I reasoned it as cutting the plant tops made for a better root system and the decaying cut tops made a manure for the plants thus giving a better nectar flow.

How would more bees at a certain time affect your propagations ?

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Re: Green manure does not come from cows...

Post  camprn on 12/20/2011, 4:57 pm

@plantoid wrote:
@camprn wrote:I also leave the clover as it attracts bees to the area near my garden...I don't mow when it is flowering.

Old country folk lore tale over here is that you get a better pollen production & nectar flow off the second cut of clover .

It seemed like it in my hives and it tasted like it in the honey produced around the time just after the second cut returned to flower.

I reasoned it as cutting the plant tops made for a better root system and the decaying cut tops made a manure for the plants thus giving a better nectar flow.

How would more bees at a certain time affect your propagations ?
I leave it for the first flowering and then usually end up cutting for maybe the next 4 weeks then more blooms come out on the clover.
It's just another flowering plant during the entire season that will encourage the bees to visit.

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