Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Green Manure (and Primroses)

Posted by Rosie

I don't tend to overwinter much in my vegetable patch as (normally) our winters can be a bit harsh at times and the garden is fairly exposed.  Leeks and parsnips do OK and this year I had good crops of brussels and kale.  However previous attempts to start onions or broad beans in the Autumn have resulted either in complete failure or certainly poor crops that had no advantage over their Spring sown cousins.  Back last Autumn though I did sow something new ..... green manure. 

Green Manure

noun Agriculture .
1.  a crop of growing plants, as clover and other nitrogen-fixing plants, ploughed under to enrich the soil.
2.  manure that has not undergone decay.
Green Manure seeds
The green manure (engrais vert in French) I am talking about is the first description, namely a plant grown on a vacant plot of land and which is then dug in to increase the fertility of the soil and give it a good structure.  Simply put - it's a natural fertiliser!  There are many plants that can be sown as green manure depending on the time of year, your soil type and what you want to sow afterwards.  I chose something that could grow overwinter, sown as summer vegetables finished cropping.  The trouble is, it is not something I have ever seen in the UK and I'm not sure what it would be called. The packet calls it Navette Jupiter and it is some sort of cabbagy plant. 

Green Manure November 2013
Whatever it is called though, it has grown well and this week I have been cutting it back and then digging it in (yup - I do have to do some digging but I pace myself to keep my back happy!).  This is what it looked like in early November and all that green has now been dug in to feed this years vegetables.  As well as feeding the soil it has the advantage of stopping soil erosion and retaining existing nutrients in the soil, especially in wet weather.  I certainly chose the right year to plant an overwintering green manure didn't I?!  Now I shall have to wait and see whether I get increased yields from my plot. 

Seeing as the 2 pictures above are not the most colourful, here's a picture of what the lanes and paths around our little patch of Normandy are covered in right now - beautiful primroses. These are without doubt my favourite spring flower. Bright and cheerful no matter what the weather is.  Do you have a favourite Spring flower too?

Normandy Primroses
For more gardening blogs please click on the link below to the How Does Your Garden Grow Blog Link (#HDYGG) from Annie at Mammasaurus .... where I suspect many posts will be prettier than mine this week!

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

36 comments :

  1. favourite spring flower; mimosa without a doubt.

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    1. I can see why having seen your pictures. It's a flower I have never seen though.

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  2. The green manure sounds like a lovely plant. x

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    1. It is a useful plant but I cut it back before it had the chance to flower so not the prettiest. There is another green manure used in Summer called Phacelia and that has gorgeous blue flowers that attract bees.

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  3. Green manure sounds genius and I'm so envious that you have all that room there to grow these things. Spring flower... hmmmm I'm torn between primroses, snowdrops and blossom (if that counts!!!)

    Once again I feel rather lazy looking at all the great stuff you have been up to! Thanks for joining in and sharing x

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    1. Don't feel lazy Annie - you are the lady that does so much I can't keep up with you. Oh and of course blossom counts :)

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  4. I too am a tad envious of all that room you have to grow-and I've always fancied growing green manure but just don't have the spare space. But I can imagine how hard work it is digging it over though! And I do enjoy a spot of primrose's :)

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  5. Green manure sound like a brilliant idea, shame i don't have a spare spot to grow veg straight into the ground. I love primroses, so pretty from now onwards.

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  6. That green manure does sound good and not as smelly as horse manure, I'm thinking!

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    1. Definitely not as smelly as manure which I also use a lot of!

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  7. That green manure sounds good. I think I love seeing daffodils in spring the most x

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  8. that sounds a really good idea… I hope it results in increased crops! favourite spring flower is a toughie, probably hyacinths because they smell so amazing!

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    1. I'm not sure about hyacinths - I sometimes find them TOO scented!

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  9. Our neighbour's front garden is full of primoses looking so gorgeous.I want to take a snap, but don't want to be too intrusive!

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  10. i had never heard of green manure but it looks like it works wonders!!

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  11. i have heard of green manure before and it really is interesting but i was not brave to try it even though i bought the seeds i dont know why maybe i didnt quite understand do you pull the plants out or wait for them to grow and then dig them into the soil. i cant wait to see how it develops as it is interesting for sure.

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    1. Let the manure grow, then cut back and leave to wilt on the soil for a few days before digging in. Chop if really big!

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  12. I should try a green manure on the plot next winter, I have thought about it in the past but not as yet tried. I love tulips, little bit to go before they come out though.

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    1. I'm hoping to go to a Tulip Festival at a local Château next month - I love them too!

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  13. I wish that I have the same space! I so envy your garden =)

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    1. You can always come and help me with the weeding!

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  14. The green manure sounds wonderful, and I agree with others,I'm jealous of your space! For me it's a toss up between snow drops and daffodils :)

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  15. What a wonderful idea! Has to be daffodils, simplistic beauty

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  16. Ooo ive never heard of Green Manure... Sounds lovely :) My favourite spring flower has to be Yellow Daffodils, to me there just symbolise spring! once you see these sprouting through you know that all those horrible winter months are finally ending :) #HDYGG

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    1. You are right - daffodils are here to herald the end of winter!

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  17. Your primroses are so pretty! My favourite spring flower, if I had to just pick one, would have to be the crocus. I love the bright purple colour that they give after a colourless winter x

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  18. Forgot to say, popping over from #HDYGG

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  19. I think I will try using some green manure this winter to keep the soil in good condition, I thought it might be a bit of a faff but you seem to have done it really well.

    I think my favourite spring flowers are also primroses, I actually remember being taken to the wood when I was a child to pick them to give to all the mothers in church on mothers day.

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  20. Ooh the green manure sounds good. Favourite Spring flowers at the moment are probably crocuses as they're so lovely to photograph. I love all the yellows though - primroses included!

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