Choosing Green Manure Seeds can seem very confusing but with a little time and using a few rules the options will become clearer.
The choice of seed will depend on why you are planting a Green Manure, how long you require the ground to be covered, what was there before, and what you want to plant after, the time of year and the type of soil you have.
Use the table below when Choosing Green Manure Seeds to help work out which one will be best for you.
|VARIETY||SOW DATE||PLANT FAMILY||GROWING PERIOD||SOIL TYPE||BENEFITS|
|Alfalfa||Apr -Jul||Legume||2-3 months or up to 1 year for overwintering||Avoid acid or wet soils, likes dry soil best||Excellent nitrogen fixer, deep rooting draw up sub-surface minerals & break up soil pans,can be turned in the autumn or left to overwinter. It is almost a complete natural fertiliser.|
|Buckwheat||May – Aug||Polygonaceae*||2-3 months||Tolerates poor soils but does not like heavy soils.||Short term, quick growing summer variety which produces a dense canopy of foliage that smothers & out competes weeds.|
|Caliente Mustard||March – Mid Oct||Brassica||2-5 months||Most||Biofumigant properties (suppression of soil borne pests & diseases by the release of naturally occurring gases).|
|Crimson Clover||Apr – Sep||Legume||3-18 months||Good loam or sandy soil||Good choice for smothering weeds, fixing nitrogen from the air and is a fast growing bulky green manure.|
|Fenugreek||Mar – Aug||Legume||2-3 months||Well drained but slightly heavy soils, will tolerate lighter ones if fairly moist||Quick growing annual, produces lots of organic matter.|
|Field Beans||Sep – Nov||Legume||Overwinter||Most but especially heavy clay soils. It will not tolerate drought conditions.||Particularly good on heavy soils as it’s roots penetrate & break up the soil. A nitrogen fixer.|
|Fodder Radish||May – Aug||Brassica||2-6 months, may overwinter||All types||Long tap roots penetrate deep into soil and draw up nutrients. Produces lots of foliage which helps improve soil structure/moisture holding capacity & fertility.|
|Forage Pea||Sep – Nov||Legume||3-6 months||Most||Good nitrogen fixer, nutrient leaching prevention overwinter.|
|Forage Rye||Aug – Nov||Poaceae*||3-6 months||Excellent for clay soil but suits most types||Excellent for overwintering, and covering soil.|
|General Mix||May – Jul||Legume / Brassica Mix||2-6 months||Most||Good all-rounder for all year.|
|Italian Ryegrass||Mar – Oct||Poaceae*||2-24 months||Most||Particularly good at lifting the nitrates in the soil and releasing them slowly. Easy to dig in after winter and fits into any bed in a crop rotation plan.|
|Lupins||Mar – Jul||Legume||2-4 months||Light sandy acid soils||Very long tap roots that help break up the soil, excellent nitrogen fixer.|
|Mustard||Mar – Sep||Brassica||1-2 months||Most||Large volumes of organic matter helps improve soil texture & water retention.|
|Phacelia||Mar – Sep||Hydrophyllaceae*||1-3 months, may overwinter||Most, but particularly dry ones||Quick growing,weed supressing foliage, lots of organic matter.|
|Red Clover||Apr – Aug||Legume||3-18 months||Good loam or sandy soil||Fast growing perennial excellent ntirogen fixer & bulky growth smothers weeds.|
|Spring Mix||Mar – May||Legume||2-4 months||Most||Good all-rounder for early sowing.|
|Sweet Clover||Mar to May & Aug to Sep||Legume||Up to 2 years||Most. Does well on hard compacted soils, waterlogged soils, drought resistant & tolerates poor soil||Has a vigorous root system that draws up minerals & penetrate heavy soil. Produces lots of leafy foliage that adds good organic matter when dug into soil.|
|White Clover||Mar – Aug||Legume||6 months or 2-5 years||Most especially silt loam & clay soils but can be tolerant of poor drainage||Excellent long-term green manure, low growing variety that can be inter-sown in between soft fruit eg Blackcurrants, a living mulch.|
|Winter Mix||Aug – Sep||Poaceae* & legume||3-6 months||Most||Good all-rounder for overwintering, with good weed suppression and prevents nutrient leaching. The combination of the Westerwolds Ryegrass means any Nitrogen present and stored by the Winter Vetches will be released at a slower rate as the organic matter decomposes over the course of the season.|
|Winter Tares (Vetches)||Mar – May or Jul – Sep for overwintering||Legume||2-3 months||Avoid acid or dry soils, Likes heavier soils||Good nitrogen fixer, weed suppression, nutrient leaching prevention overwinter.|
|Yellow Trefoil||Mar – Aug||Legume||3 months up to 1 year||Copes with light dry soils, preferably not acid||Low growing so suitable for intersowing between taller crops with open canopies like sweetcorn or beans etc. Good at fixing nitrogen, and good at suppressing weeds.|
*Doesn’t affect crop rotation.