We use a range of green manures in the Kitchen Garden during the season to improve the soil structure, and soil fertility, as well as to inhibit weeds and reduce leaching, particularly during the winter period. Some of the green manures which we have used include:
- Phacelia tanacetifolia – which has feathery foliage and attractive blue oblong bell-shaped flowers, which are popular with bees. We leave blocks of this green manure to flower to encourage these pollinators, as well as incorporating it before flowering in other areas to benefit the soil structure – good for sowing in early summer
- Mustard – this is quick growing and produces yellow flowers, we dig it in before flowering
- Field beans – a valuable nitrogen fixer (member of the pea and bean family). We purchase this green manure in bulk and sow in spare ground after harvesting some of the main vegetables. It can be cut back overwinter to encourage further growth, and then dug in before spring. Field beans are one of the most winter hardy of the green manures, and are easy to sow in rows on prepared ground – they germinate quickly from an August-September sowing.