Using green manures in beds that are empty at the end, or very early in the growing season is a great way of keeping weeding to a minimum, plus helping to improve soil structure and nutrients.
With the various rotations in the Mill Gardens we often sow different types at various times of the year; Forage Peas, Italian Rye, Phacelia and Clover are all easy to grow and have numerous benefits. They can be cut and dug in to the beds before sowing starts in the spring or removed and composted depending on the season.
Phacelia tanacetifolia is fast growing and has the added benefit of very attractive flowers which bees and butterflies love, followed by twisting seed heads, we sow this in late summer/early Autumn and again in the spring. Red & White Clover are also great for insects and look very ornamental when in full flower.
Forage Peas are sown in late Autumn to overwinter, part of the Legume family of plants the roots have small nodules which form a symbiotic relationship with Nitrogen fixing bacteria, this allows them to “fix” Nitrogen creating a natural plant food.
Different green manures can also been sown together to combine their benefits, Tares is a form of Vetch & Rye Grass can be mixed, either by sowing together or Rye first in the autumn then Tares broadcast over the top in the spring.
More info on the benefits and how to grow Green manures can be found on the RHS website.