Published On: October 19th, 2023
1.6 min read
Koren in her back garden

Last autumn, I carefully cultivated a heap of seeds within a new garden bed, only to hack these fledgling plants down to the ground just a few weeks later – and deliberately let them all rot away.

It’s called “green manure” and it’s an easy way to build excellent soil for your veggies or fruit trees, at a very low cost.

Green manures don’t actually involve any animal manure at all. Instead, you create soil food and fertiliser from nothing more than plants.

Months later, when I dug into my once-depleted garden bed to plant the first of my fruit trees as part of my permaculture garden renovation, the soil colour had completely changed and the worm activity was off the charts.

And all from a pack of seeds that cost me less than five bucks.

So, ready to learn how to kick-start a new veggie patch or revitalise struggling soil by growing your own green manure? Take a look at this green manures story I wrote for ABC Everyday, which covers:

  • How to choose the right seed combination for a green manure, both in summer and in winter.
  • How to prepare your soil for planting a green manure.
  • Simple ways to protect your green manure seeds from being eaten by wild birds.
  • How to know when to ‘chop and drop’ your green manure.
  • The kinds of improvements you can expect to see in your soil after growing a green manure.

Food gardening really is about growing soil: Cultivate great soil, and you’re much more likely to succeed with abundant yields and a tasty harvest. So, might be time to give a green manure a go at your place?

This story is part of a regular gardening column I write for ABC Everyday, the lifestyle website of Australia’s national broadcaster. You can find my full story archive here.

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