@allotmentalice’s speedy guide to…green manure

Green manures can help lock in nutrients

Green manures are fast growing crops that can be sown as a late season soil conditioners – and are especially good for filling bare patches at the allotment now… 

  1. Mustard: like all green manures, this fast-growing crop adds nutrients and structure to the soil and helps to suppress weeds at a time when there’s little else in the ground. As a member of the brassica family it can be sown from March to mid-September. Scatter and rake in and leave for a few months before digging in, letting the plants decompose before sowing or planting. Don’t follow this green manure with any other plants of the same family i.e cabbage, cauli, Brussels etc, as pests and diseases can be transferred. 
  2. Phacelia: You can overwinter this pretty flowering plant in mild areas but it’s best sown in later summer to early autumn and dug in. Dig in before it flowers – but leave a patch for pollinating insects such as bees and hoverflies. They love the flowers.
  3. Winter field bean: this annual legume is great for breaking up heavy soils and can be sown right up until November. Leave for three months and dig in before flowering and then leave it for another four weeks before you sow.
  4. Winter tares: great for ‘fixing’ nitrogen into the soil. Sow in early October for overwintering, and dig in next year.


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