Do you know what green manure is and why we seed it in our gardens? Green manure is any crop planted with the sole purpose of enriching the soil with nutrients and organic matter. Commonly used in organic agriculture, green manure serves many beneficial functions. In our gardens, we use clover, a plant from the legume family, as our green manure, and it has many benefits.
First, as a reliable source of nitrogen-rich organic matter, the clover acts as fertilizer. Second, it covers the soil, serving as a simple weed-prevention method. Two years of green manure in the ground reduces weeds for the next few years. Third, as it flowers, the green manure feeds and support beneficial insects. Fourth, clover’s strong roots loosen the soil for better rooting and build pores for the soil's most important workers — the earthworms! The worms like to eat the cuttings from the green manure, and when the cut grass is cultivated into the soil, the organic material helps to fertilize it.
If you'll remember, I wrote in May about our research project for cultivating different sunflower species. With the sunflowers now blooming, we've completed our trial, having tested several breeds for quality and whether they help increase yields. More on this in a future post!