Saturday, March 18, 2017

Green manure

Photo of a garden bed in early spring with lots of seedlings
Green manure (mustard), daffodils and hundreds of hedge garlic seedlings (weeds)
In November (I think), I broadcast seeds from a winter green manure mix in the perennial/ornamental section of the garden.  I know for certain it had mustard and winter grazing rye, although I think there may be one or two more other kinds of seed too.  As far as I can tell, only the mustard germinated at that time, and has been growing slowly over winter. 

I'm actually pretty impressed by the mustard's tenacity;  it's continued to grow and is now looking pretty lush, although I would have liked for it to cover more ground than it does--which is possibly a result of my broadcasting skills.  To make up for it, there is now a blanketing of hedge garlic seedlings everywhere else in the bed.  I don't mind this, to tell the truth.  It's a weed, yes, but as I don't have anything else to grow there, I'd rather the soil was covered by it than by more pernicious weed (such as blackberry brambles or creeping buttercup).  Plus the chickens eat it, and it's even edible for us humans.
Photo close up of mustard and rye seedlings
Mustard and rye seedlings
Back in last year's chicken yard, the mustard and rye seedlings and up and growing.  I put them down in late January, I believe.  I'll probably get the spring green manure mix out there too, to fill in any gaps;  I've got both alfalfa and crimson clover.  I prefer the alfalfa as a perennial chicken food source, but I sure do love those pretty crimson clover flowers--the bees and other pollinators love them too.

At this point, I don't have concrete plans for the old chicken yard, but I know chickens will be on it again in the future, so some perennials (either ornamental or food producing) are in order--preferrably shade tolerant.  Green manure now will help keep the weeds at bay and prepare the soil for future plantings;  chickens can eat it when it matures, too.

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