Posted by Rita Robinson

One of our 'Sow Seeders' took over an allotment plot 4 months ago which needed a bit of tlc to bring it back to productive life...

allotment sandy soil green manure

One of the main challenges was to improve the soil. Being lightly sandy it was obvious that it was lacking in nutrients and organic structure. Which meant every time that it rained further soil erosion and nutrient depletion.

The plan was to sow different green manures that would help tackle the soil challenges whilst at the same time fit in with the crop rotation plans.

We selected 4 different types of green manure:
- Mustard - to help improve the bed for potatoes 
- Fodder Radish - for the pea & bean crops
- Crimson Clover - for radish & lettuce crops
- Italian Ryegrass - no specific crop plan, just general over-winter soil improver

The Mustard and Italian Ryegrass were the first to be sown at the beginning of July. With the incredible weather that we had during July you can see the effect it had on the growth...firstly the Mustard Green Manure...

mustard green manure sandy soil

In the space of just over 2 weeks, the Mustard went from patchy, slow germination to rampaging leafy monster looking lush with total ground coverage. A fantastic transformation. The plan is to keep the Mustard in the ground over winter, letting the frosts knock it back so that it makes mulch and then dig in spring.

The second green manure that was sown at the same time was the Italian Ryegrass. A similar growth impact can be seen...

italian ryegrass green manure sandy soil

 The Italian Ryegrass will be fine over-winter and is easy to dig in spring.

And finally, Fodder Radish which was sown about 10 days ago and already is creating fantastic nutrient-rich foliage...

fodder radish green manure sandy soil


In the next few weeks, the Crimson Clover will be sown, completing the green manure plan.

We will update with progress over the next few months.