Green Manure at School Gardens

School kids using hedge clippers to cut down the "green manure" plants

Green manure crops are plants grown specially to be dug back into the soil before they reach maturity. This way they help to contribute to the care and feeding of the garden soil. Its an old technique that’s been forgotten by many farmers and gardeners who are no longer aware of it’s  proven benefits.

Many legumes can be used as green manure crops, largely as a natural nitrogen source since their roots form an association with soil-borne bacteria that can transform nitrogen from the atmosphere to root nodules that adhere to the roots of the plants.

Its an easy cheap way of making your own natural fertilisers.

Yesterday we resumed filming with Leonie Shanahan on her school garden project. Leonie was keen to show the green manure crop the kids had planted.
Leonie had opted for a cheap and fast solution to create a wall of green manure that would be slashed and composted.

Bird seed.

Mulching the Garden Bed

Not quite Nitrogen fixing like the pea and bean family of plants favoured by Permaculture people as a cover crop, but Leonie feels its a fast way to put a little colour and growth that can out compete the weeds that would normally take off during the summer months.

Cheap bird seed from the local pet shop is an inexpensive way to grow a mass of green sunflowers, millet, corn, flax and canola. The results looked great and the kids enjoyed hacking into the growth with hedge clippers.

After they cut down the growth, the offcuts were composted and fresh worm castings and mulch were added to the topsoil.

Kids learn the basics of garden design and planting and looking after vegetables and hopefully better nutrition. Leonie hopes to install a number of new school gardens in the coming year.