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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another GM Crop - Green Manure

Another crop with the initials GM - Green Manure crops. Last year we ran out of Compost just when there were seedlings in need of planting. After an emergency team meeting out came the lawn mower with catcher and over to the nearest lush growth of clover. After digging this in thoroughly in went the annual bunching shallots. And what a bumper crop came out of that. The largest bulbs we have ever grown.

Now we are converts. This year at every opportunity we have planted a green manure crop. Oats, Rye, Woolly Pod Vetch and even tried an Autumn Mix from Eden Seeds.

Spoke recently to a nearby farmer who has been planting Green Manure crops since 1943 in the sandy Hunter River soil of his farm. He swears by it ability to turn sandy soil into rich dark loam and provide rich humus.

Chop it up well, dig it in but not too deep, keep it soft and fluffy so there is plenty of air. We use some hand hedge trimmers to cut it low to the ground and chop it up. Then fork it over and finally chop it again with a spade. You can leave it for while to break down but it works just as well if you plant immediately.

George Henderson in his book "The Farming Ladder" published in the 1940's talks about Green Manure crops and how he and his brother were able to restore dilapidated land quite quickly as well as maintain high yielding land. This is an inspirational book on farming and maintaining  diversified land. He raised cattle, maintained a dairy, kept sheep, pigs and chickens and a market garden. Because of the diversity he was never at the mercy of a single product's market fluctuations. The sad news was that his daughter took over when he retired and migrated the entire farm to pigs. In 2007 when pig prices fell and pig feed sky rocketed the farm went bust.

The book is available free from the Soil and Health Library.

Woolly Pod Vetch Green Manure Crop

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