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Green Crop Guarantees a Good Start E-mail
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Saturday, 19 August 2006
Green Crop Guarantees a Good Start


Taranaki Daily News

By Wally Richards

JULY is the month when most green manure crops are dug under. But the timing is not critical as long as there is a reasonable gap between digging under and sowing or planting the subsequent crop.

When a heavy green crop is dug under, bacteria start to work on the foliage and stalks to break down the hard matter as well as the softer tissue. To do this they draw nitrogen from the soil, and if seeds have been sown or young plants set out, these may suffer from lack of nitrogen. The products of swift decomposition are also detrimental to good growth by healthy roots, so once again living plants in the area can suffer.

The minimum time between digging under and planting is said to be six weeks in winter, less in warmer summer conditions. But I have dug under a green crop of lupins one weekend and planted a crop of potatoes the following weekend, to gain an excellent harvest.

I think the stricture about leaving plenty of time for decomposition applies more to sowing seeds and setting out very young seedlings. There is much more leeway when planting hardy crops like potatoes or planting newly-arrived rose bushes, for instance.

Even when the area is intended for acid-loving plants like potatoes or tomatoes, I prefer to scatter around some lime on the newly-dug soil after burying a green manure crop. Acidity tends to build up after digging under, and most gardeners will be rewarded with the sight of many earthworms on turning over the soil if there is adequate lime in it. A soil drench of Thatch Busta and MBL after digging in will speed up the breakdown period to half.

To make life easier with tall-growing green crops, first cut the crop down near ground level with a weed eater, rotary mower or hedge clippers. Next, spray the cut foliage with Thatch Busta and MBL. Now dig in the crop.

Before planting out, sprinkle Ocean Solids and Simalith over the area and lightly rake into the soil. These products are mineral rich and will greatly aid the health of your plants and on vegetable crops will place the valuable minerals into your food chain.


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