We've been sowing seeds for green manure crops where there are garden beds not being used or areas where customers are deciding what to plant.
Bare soil invites weeds to make themselves at home, and when it rains, valuable soil and water wash away taking nutrients with them.
Benefits of covered soil
There are many reasons to sow a green manure crop. To:
Before cover crops seed
Cut them down or pull them out before they go to seed. Use the stems as mulch or dig it into the soil to rot down and release nutrients for the next crop and improve soil structure.
What to sow
Diversity is the way to go. Each plant has its own benefits, from attracting beneficial insects, to adding specific nutrients to the soil.
Include your cover crop in your vege crop rotation plan. Ie don’t grow plants of the same family after each other.
In winter, we have oats and legumes (nitrogen fixers) such as beans, lupins and various types of peas. There’s also winter-hardy salad crops, such as corn salad and miner’s salad (Claytonia).
Experiment with what works in your area and with your soil. You’ve got a lot to gain and very little to lose.
A to-the-point list of activities to prepare your garden for winter and the plants for spring. We're talking about pruning, feeding and general care. Plant, sow, reproduce covers planting.
Remember Wild about Weeds can help you with any of these tasks.
Prune and trim
Prune shrubs that have finished flowering. Eg hebes, rosemary, manuka, grapes, hydrangeas, lavender, grevilleas, fuchsia. Many of these grow leggy and the lower leaves die. Pruning encourages new growth.
Give hedges a final trim before winter. Remember to leave the bottom wider than the top to prevent bottom branches dying off.
Cut perennials, eg herbs, back to encourage new growth. Poke a few short cuttings in the soil to grow new ones.
Feed your hard working plants
Spread a quality general organic fertiliser around plants’ dripline as per packet instructions. Water it in before mulching. No need to fertilise plants that don’t like fertiliser. Eg proteas, leucadendron.
Spray plants with neem or other organic pesticide. For deciduous plants after leaves drop is a good time to fully spray plants to deal to any overwintering fungi and other pests lurking in nooks and crannies.
Mulch or compost plants inc shrubs and trees. This will reduce weeds, improve soil structure and break down into nutrients for the plants. Sow green manure seeds in bare areas.
Don’t waste fallen leaves and prunings. If they’re not diseased use as mulch or put them in your compost. It's all goodness for the soil.
Keep weeding. If you don’t have much time, at least remove flowers and seed heads to reduce spread.
Cooler wet weather brings slugs and snails to deal with.