September is the month to sow green manures. Novice gardeners might think they need to head down to a local farm and kindly ask the farmer if he has fed the cows lately, but this is not exactly what green manures are. Green manures are cover crops that become part of the soil– plants grown off-season and tilled in to improve the structure and nutrient content of your garden. It can be mixed in with the waste-products of Bessie if you like.
The first benefit is that the green manure will hold onto soil fertility that would otherwise be washed out by the winter rains. Secondly, they will prevent weed growth so you will have less work to do, and we applaud anything that gives us a little time off!
They also help improve the soil structure. In the spring you just need to dig over and allow them to rot down for a few weeks.
Green manures are usually dug into the soil when the plants are still young, before they produce any crop and often before they flower. Choose a manure that suits your part of the world, but not something closely related to the crop you plan on sowing next. Fast growing and leafy green manures are often preferred as they provide more nutrients when dug in.
Some to try are guar, also known as cluster bean, hairy vetch, also known as winter vetch, Hungarian grazing rye, and butterfly pea.
All of these should increase organic matter and available nitrogen in your soil and give your earthworms something to do over the long winter.
Love the life you live,