Amateur Gardening

Time to sow some green manures

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WITH bare patches appearing all over the plot, don’t allow the weeds to take up residence – sow a green manure instead! These ‘crops’ can bring benefits to the soil, such as adding more nitrogen to it via a process called ‘fixing’, or by having penetratin­g roots that can extract nutrients and minerals from the depths of your soil. Dug back into the soil in autumn or spring, such manures add plant-based nutrients to the earth.

In our climate, clovers and field beans are among the best nitrogen fixers, and the extensive roots of grazing rye extract generous nutrients from your soil. These examples are all hardy so will grow through our winters, but you can dig them in during late autumn, if you prefer. Other manures aren’t reliably hardy (buckwheat, fenugreek, phacelia) but they’ll either provide a weed-smothering green mulch, or attract pollinator­s to the plot with their blooms.

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