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It helps a lot to have a garden tiller in the spring after growing green manure, that's for sure. Maybe you can rent one?

There is not a lot of difference between green manure cover crops and compost, both add organic material to the soil. If in the spring you don't want to turn it under, it's also an option to dig it up like weeds, compost it, then add it back to the garden.

What encourages weeds the most is unused ground, even if it is well mulched. It's really best to grow something, anything. The main advantage of a cover crop is it will usually compete well with weeds, yet be easy to dig up or turn under in the spring.

One of the most common pitfalls of green manure crops is choosing a leguminous nitrogen fixing type, then not having the proper bacteria in the ground. For example, white clover is an excellent cover crop, but if you don't have the specific bacteria that goes along with clover it won't grow, and in the end you will be left with only weeds.

Another thing you can do is combine cover crops. For example fava (broad) beans and white clover work well together. But since these both need different bacterias, you need to make sure you have both in the ground.

If you plant a cover crop, make sure to turn it under about a month before planting anything else.


Green manure works for me! We usually put down winter rye in October (USDA zone 5). It keeps growing -however slowly - under the snow. Sometimes we let the chickens in the garden plot in the spring to feast on it before we till it under. We use a rhoto tiller to dig it in, and are sure to start before it grows to tall. As for it being easier than compost? Ummm, I'd say its just different...


I used Hungarian Grazing Rye on an area of my back garden a few years ago. We have the heaviest clay soil and it had been horribly compacted and it has bindweed (it's a joy, really!). It was a bit weedy until it got going, but then it really took off and when I came to digging it in it was much easier than digging the compacted soil.

Allotment Lady

I bought a big bag of green compost but never did sow it - was a bit concerned that most of it was 'weeds' and had to be dug in before it seeded.

Not always possible on a big allotment like mine.

The one green manure that I did sow - you had to let it grow for two years then dig it in, has turned into a lush grassy meadow - so I am leaving that for my chickens summer holiday home up my plot.


Due to business I may have to leave my garden fallow next year and I'm considering planting some sort of cover crop like pea vetch or clover, I'll let you know if I do.

John Curtin

I have a very small tiller but it doesn't reach down a great depth. As access to the allotment is restricted I'll have to see if the bigger versions have wheels so I can propel it in when its not tilling.

Thanks. I'm thinking that there's not much in it between spreading compost and sowing and digging in a green manure!

If green manure makes a difference to a patch with clay and bindweed then it's powerfull stuff. I don't have clay (the allotment is very sandy) but bindwee is always trying to get in.

Allotment Lady:
Timing seems to be the key. I'm wary of introducing anything that could take off and introduce more weeds.


Not anything to do with green manure at such but I read in Saturday's Financial Times that Brighton (near London) has a green taxi rank of pedal powered richshaws - including one bedecked in Burberry check, called, you've guessed it, The Chavrolet.


Chavrolet! Brilliant!

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