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Green Manure

I was reading my gardening book about growing green manure to add nutrients to the soil.. and it got me thinking:

Green manure takes nutrients from the soil in order to grow.  Does it add back more than it's taken?  

Typically I just mulch my garden with newspapers/grass clippings each fall before the rains, then uncover my growing areas in the spring as needed.  

I realize there are other reasons for growing green manure, such as soil preservation, etc.  But does it really add any nutrients?  

Utah, USA.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,567

    The theory as I understand it is that it prevents the leaching of nutrients from the soil in wet weather, as the nutrients are bound up in the green manure, and they are then returned to the soil when they are dug in. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • As Dove said, the nutrients are added when the plants are dug in, some are nitrogen fixers too image

    I think they are good used with other things, im not sure they could provide everything your soil needs alone image
  • I believe the latesting thinking on nitrogen fixers as green manure is you must cut them down before flowering/going to seed, otherwise the nitrogen gets used up by the plant. The organic matter of the green manures benefits/improves the structure of your soil but this is minimal unless you grow tons of it!

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,021

    I agree with Dove, the main benefit is not the nutrients it adds, but the nutrients it prevents for being leached out of the soil by winter rain.

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  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,907

    Thanks, that makes sense to me.  

    I practice the 'no-dig' method, but was considering possibly growing a crop of mustard or even excess salad seed.. something that would die with frost and form a layer to decompose by spring.  I think I'll just stick with my layers of newspaper and thick mulch, less work with the same benefit!  

    Utah, USA.
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