humus

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nitiram

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humus
« on: June 11, 2006, 07:55 »
This is another daft question, must be well in the 500's by now..

Was visited by one of the old blokes on site the other day, actually he was very helpful, they all are when they actually stop and talk.

Was asking him about my soil and how to get it more crumbly, at the moment it is in large chunks no matter what i do to it. He said that i needed more 'hummous'..well that's how he pronounced it...made me smile. But then had to 'get on' before I could ask him what I could actually do to introduce more humus into the plot. So any ideas please?

Am planning to grow some  of the green manures but looking in the catalogue there are lots of them so which one is best?

Many thanks for all the help

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John

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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2006, 10:11 »
I'll resist the Greek Hummus jokes!

I think a lot of green manures are hard work to dig in but mustard is fairly easy. I tend to cut it down and half goes onto the compost heap and the other is dug straight in. It is a brassica though, so consider it in your rotation plan. Also good to follow on after potatoes as it confuses the eelworm into staying out late and so benefits them next time in the rotation.
You can grow French beans (dwarf) as a green manure. Like all legumes they add nitrogen.
I like the way sweetcorn produces a lot of compost material as well as the cobs.
Can you get any horse or cow manure delivered? That's going to add to the organic matter as well.
Finally - check the pH - lime does help the soil structure. Don't lime and manure at the same time - it reacts chemically.
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comic_muse

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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2006, 17:49 »
I'd go for Clover, there are several sorts & you can get the seed in larger quantities from the Farmers Suppliers or from good Seed Merchants ( proper ones ) You can use it as ground cover, green manure, walk on it...crop it & let it come again if you want.  It makes more 'top' than mustard before you have to dig it in, puts nitrogen into the ground, feeds the bee's....looks nice...& no club root risk.
......straight lines are for tidy minded people.....

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John

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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2006, 20:24 »
Bit surprised by you saying clover makes more top - mustrad went up about 2 feet high. I thought clover was quite low growing. - Tell me more :)

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comic_muse

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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2006, 08:10 »
No, Fodder clover won't make that sort of height, but it'll get half way or over, you can glean it off with your bare hands & it'll come again & it makes a lot more 'leaf'. To some exent brassica manures depend on how long you leave them, as to how much top you get, but the more top the more root & the longer they're left the greater the liability of self seeding (everywhere).  Gardening in a 'traditional' Cabbage/Sprout/Sprouting growing area I'm a bit paranoid about anything likley to proliferate Club Root ?  All round I'd rather use a 'legume' for the other benefits which come with it.  A Clover can also be put down on cleaned ground to keep it fallow until you can get around to 'doing something with it'.

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nitiram

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humus
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2006, 09:02 »
Have been doing some more reading up and think I will get some clover and some field beans...they can be bought in big bags  rather than seed packets.   Who has used these in the past? Any guide lines?

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John

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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2006, 09:43 »
Thanks Comic :)
I didn't know that .

Judging by the way my caulflowers have gone this year, I'd probably kill the mustard off as well. Luckily it's not club root, just the wrath of the gods for my pride in how they were doing until I planted them out.

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mellowmick

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humus
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2006, 10:03 »
One quick 'green manure' is fenugreek; the one you use in curries. Just get the seeds from a spice shop (our chinese supermarket does them really cheap in biggish packets). They look like little light brown oblongs. Sow them and they come up really quickly.

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milkman

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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2006, 17:33 »
A green manure I love sowing is phacelia, although I'm not very good at cutting it down before the lilac/bluey flowers arrive as the bees love them so much - very picturesque on the plot though and it self seeds readily but without becoming a nuisance...and I don't think it belongs to any of the key plant families so you don't need to worry rotationally-wise, although it doesn't have the added benefit of fixing nitrogen.
Mulching bare ground with any spare allotment-made compost or mushroom compost will also help to build a good layer of humus.
Gardening organically on chalky, stony soil.

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supersprout

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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2006, 14:16 »
I'm with milkman: mulch any bare soil with whatever you can lay your hands on - spent hops, grass clippings, compost, straw - somehow keeping the soil moist seems to encourage those lumps to break down, and when you harvest the mulch gets dug in to improve the soil structure.

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dave

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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2006, 16:05 »
A good cheap green manure is tares (leguminous- nitrogen fixing)

You can buy "winter tares" from eg the organic gardening place

alternatively you can buy by the 25-pound sack for about £12 from seed mill/ pet superstore sort of places.  I think it's sold as pigeon food.  Just broadcast lavishly.  Good ground cover and quite pretty too.

I cut and compost then dig in what's left.
Or-  a late sowing gets killed by the frosts and can just be left to rot in meanwhile poviding ground cover.


Also look out for phacelia- a very attractive feathery-leaved plant which is irresisitible to bees.

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nitiram

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humus
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2006, 08:10 »
Have bought a  huge bag of field beans and clover from the organic catalogue...now I just need to work out how to sow them as they didn't come with instructions!!

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dave

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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2006, 12:39 »
Tried field beans last back end and wasn't terribly impressed to tell the truth.
They're like a rather stunted (well mine were) broad bean.
As you actually need to plant them, rather than scatter, if you don't want the local wildlife to gobble them rather a lot of work- also not a lot of ground cover unless plant really close together.
I decided not to use them again, but good luck anyway; I might just have been unlucky.
d

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nitiram

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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2006, 16:21 »
Can you actually eat the beans do you know? Have obviously not thought this through....again!!! Story of my life :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  But was advised to use them.

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John

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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2006, 17:06 »
You can actually eat field beans though they're really animal fodder. I just draw a drill and roughly sow at 3" intervals. They're useful as an overwintering green manure.

Clover, I think you just broadcast it over the plot.



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