Wednesday 30 September 2020

Green Manure Autumn/Winter Mix Seeds

After hitting the Mr Fothergill's catalogue and thumbing through I got to pages 128 - 129 which are full of Green Manures. 

As you will be aware if you are a regular visitor to I've got three new beds growing green manure at the moment, and I have plans to get many more growing it.
Green Manure is an ancient practice, it revitalises poor soils naturally discourages spreading weeds, disrupt pest and disease life cycles, protects and improves soil fertility by preventing nutrients leaching away over winter and adds valuable organic material.  

I have two types of Green Manure on order from Mr Fothergills one is The Green Manure Autumn/ Winter Mix Seeds which is made up of: 

15% Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
20% Broad Leaf Clover (Trifolium pratense)
30% Westerwolths Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum)
35% White Tilney Mustard (Sinapsis alba)

Clovers fix nitrogen in the soil. Rye grass and white mustard improve soil structure. The other Green Manure I have on order is Mustard Caliente which does not get dispatched until after the 6th October 2020, and I will blog about it once it arrives. 

The back of the packet of seeds suggest that the green manure will grown to a height of 300mm - 600mm.

The web site states that the pack covers approximately 20 sq. metres, however the back of the pack says 15 square metres.  I have written to Mr Fothergills and brought this anomaly between web site and back of pack to their attention and I will update this post once I get an answer as to which value is correct. 

My beds are 1.2m x 2.4m on plan, so each bed is 1.2m x 2.4m = 2.88 sq. metres. 


20/2.88 sq. metres = 6.94 enough in a pack for say 7 beds if applied as directed
15/2.88 sq. metres = 5.20 enough in a pack for say 5 beds if applied as directed

Now this does make me wonder should I be weighing the pack and making 7 or 5 equal amounts just enough for my bed size? 

Sowing instructions on the pack says

"Sow outdoors September to November or through to February if the soil is not too cold and wet. Broadcast the seed over finely prepared soil which has already been watered." 

It will be ready to dig in after 2-3 months after sowing but anytime before flowering and 4-5 weeks before the ground is required.  Cut the plants back and allow foliage to wilt before digging the crop into a depth of 150 - 200mm (6"-8"). Chop up the foliage with the spade as you dig.

In the past I have cut and then worked into the top of the bed with a spade, then covered with weed membrane and let the worms do the job of taking it into the soil whilst feeding off it.  

There is a warning on the pack to ensure the plants are cut back or dug in before they set seed. 

A Hint & Tip on the pack suggests 

"Green Manure can be mowed before flowering to extend the cover period. Leave plants in the ground until soil is required for use, but do not let them set seeds."

Now I like that idea especially as I now have a battery operated lawn mower that I can take to the Allotment and it has a mulch plate.  When I have some growing I will blog some photos of it in the beds. 

Update 01-10-2020 

I received a very swift reply from Mr Fothergills Marketing Manager thanking me for pointing out the anomaly and that he would investigate and come back to me and an hour or so later I received this reply. 

Hi Alan,

We have done some digging and checked the seed fills and the mix against the various coverages and come to the conclusion that the packet is incorrect.

The calculations are somewhat odd which, I believe, is where the confusion has arisen but we are going to change the packet to show 20sqm coverage – though it will take some time for that to appear in store!

Once again, I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.  

Now that is what I call customer service! 

And now I know I have enough green manure for 7 beds as long as I'm not heavy handed. 

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