Improve your vegie patch by growing a green manure crop.
Improve your vegie patch by growing a green manure crop. cjp

Green manure is the way to grow

Healthy soil is the foundation of a great garden, so it's important to continue to improve your soil. Adding organic matter is a fantastic way to improve the soil in your vegie patch and one of the ways you can do this is by growing a green manure crop.

A green manure crop is leafy foliage that is grown and mixed back into the soil, rather than being harvested, adding lovely organic matter to the soil.

Over a quiet period a green manure crop in your vegie patch is much better than leaving it bare and provides a low maintenance way to fill the patch and reduce the chance of it being infested with weeds by the time you are ready to get stuck into it again.

Here's how:

1. Gently cultivate the top few centimetres of soil to break it up and then mix in some compost or organic fertiliser.

2. Mix some 'green manure' seeds into the soil. Bird seed and a packet of pea or bean seeds makes for an inexpensive and foliage-rich green manure crop.

3. Keep the area moist while the plants establish.

4. After 2-3 months, before the plants flower, cut the plants close to the ground and then dig all the foliage and roots into the soil.

5. Mulch over the top with sugar cane or lucerne hay and the green manure plants will break down and enrich the soil, ready for the next crop of home-grown vegies.

Angie Thomas is a horticulturist at Yates.