The impressively long list of advantages of green manure ranges from optimizing growth conditions to protecting against erosion and suppressing weeds. Plaice prepared in this way will produce better crop yields in an environmentally friendly way. In flower beds, soil improvement gives depleted beds a beneficial phase of regeneration. Even an inexperienced hobby gardener cannot turn a blind eye to the convincing pluses. Of course, there are a few horticultural tricks that you should be familiar with in order to put the plan into practice as efficiently as possible. The only thing missing is understandable instructions for green manure and an insight into the best green manure plants.

Sensible measure on the following areas

When summer draws to a close, the perfect time for green manure has come. The harvested beds not only look bare and barren, but in this condition would be exposed to the stresses of winter without protection. The same applies, of course, to flower borders, on which annual plants are grown that have done their job at this time of the year. Instead of leaving these areas fallow until next spring, the hobby gardener makes a green manure. The focus is on the following areas:

  • Vegetable beds that are not planted with winter fruits.
  • Empty flower borders that will be redesigned over the next year.
  • Beds with permanent crops, such as berries or roses, as well as on tree grates.
  • Between the rows of vegetables that remain in the kitchen garden through the winter.

The green manure on a new plot of land proves to be a remarkable advantage. As a rule, the soil is extremely compacted by construction machinery, storage of building materials and other construction-related loads. Deep-rooted plants such as sunflowers or lupins do beneficial work here by breaking up the compaction and gradually creating a wonderfully crumbly soil consistency.

Tip: Green manure is also suitable as an intermediate crop during the vegetation period in the kitchen garden.

Preparation of the soil and sowing

The selected plant species regulates the time of sowing from May to October. In order for the seeds to emerge optimally, it is advisable to prepare the soil to the same extent as for any other crop.

  • Thoroughly loosen the earth with a hand harrow.
  • Then remove weeds, roots and stones.
  • If necessary, distribute compost and algae lime and use a rake to smooth the surface.
  • Spread the seeds broadly or use a spreader.

The seeds get better ground contact by working them superficially into the soil with a wide rake and pressing them down with a lawn roller. The later in the year the seeds are sown, the more seeds are required. Detailed information on dosage can usually be found on the packaging. In the last step, the bed is irrigated and covered with a close-meshed protective net.

Be careful when choosing plants

If you don’t exercise caution when choosing green manure plants, you run the risk of involuntarily causing two complications that are widespread in the home garden: carbonic hernia and soil fatigue. The following premises must therefore be taken to heart so that the beneficial benefits of natural soil improvement do not turn into soil deterioration:

  • Never choose plants that come from the same or a similar family.
  • The specifications for crop rotation must also be observed for green manure.

In a bed with cultivated cruciferous vegetables, therefore, under no circumstances should other cruciferous vegetables be sown for the purpose of green manuring. The same applies, of course, to legumes or butterflies: no lupins or vetches before and after beans or peas or similar combinations. An experienced hobby gardener therefore pays special attention to the composition of seed mixtures. The entire mix will be disqualified for a cabbage patch if it contains only a single cruciferous vegetable.


In the course of cultivation, weeds become noticeable even with green manure. It is weeded so that it does not gain the upper hand. In addition, care is limited to an adequate water supply in times of drought. This also applies to the cold season, when hardy green manure plants are threatened by frost. If it freezes for a long time without snow falling, an attentive gardener will water the plants on a frost-free day.

Clear the bed

Since self-sowing green manure plants is rarely desired, a hobby gardener mows them down shortly before the seeds form. Depending on the type of plant being cultivated, this point in time will come after 5 to 11 weeks. Anyone who works too impatiently here loses a large part of their effectiveness.

  • Cut the plants with a scythe, brush cutter or lawn mower.
  • The clippings remain on the ground as mulch.
  • Only work flat into the earth when it is dry, due to the risk of rot.

Hardy green manure survives during the cold season on the clod to be mowed and processed in the next year. Plants that are not hardy can remain in the field through winter, where they freeze back before the seeds ripen. This measure makes it easier to clear the bed in spring.

After the mulch and soil have been mixed, the planting of the bed takes place after 3 to 4 weeks. This waiting time is of essential importance for the optimal effectiveness of the entire process. It just takes some time for the organic acids to develop during the rotting process, which serve to develop the nutrients in the soil for the later cultivated plants.

Tip: The mulch rots more quickly if it is sprinkled with algae lime or nettle manure is sprayed.

The best green manure plants

If you look around the range of green manure plants, you will find a large number of suitable species that are sown either singularly or as a mixture.
Not hardy plants

Bee friend (Phacelia)

  • Water leaf plant (Hydrophylloideae).
  • Sow from April to September.
  • Deeply rooted to 70 cm.

This plant is one of the most popular green manure plants. As a water leaf plant, it does not give rise to any concerns about crop rotation, so the gardener cannot go wrong with it.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum)

  • Knöterichgewächs (Polygonaceae).
  • Sow from April to August.
  • Ideal for light, acidic soils.

Germination starts after 3 to 5 days. Buckwheat grows rapidly, aerates the ground with its hollow stalks and at the same time serves as first-class green fodder for various pets.

Lupine (Lupinus)

  • Legumes (Fabaceae).
  • Sow from April to August.
  • Long tap roots up to 150 cm.

Blue, white or yellow lupins are very popular. They collect nitrogen, tolerate drought and loosen even compacted soil wonderfully.

Ringelblume (Calendula)

  • Korbblütler (Asteraceae).
  • Sow from March to October.
  • Tender root system extends up to 70 cm deep.

The marigold wants to stand in moist soil in order to thrive optimally. At the same time, it targets unwanted nematodes and thus contributes to the health of the soil.

Sunflower (helianthus)

  • Korbblütler (Asteraceae).
  • Sow from April to August.
  • Magnificent growth height up to 200 cm.

It is undoubtedly one of the giants among green manure plants. Their roots reach up to 300 cm deep into the ground and absorb it with the most compact compaction. It is beneficial to sow them before replanting fruit trees and as a post-crop of strawberries. If the huge stalks become lignified, they are shredded to use as mulch.

Studentenblume (Tagetes)

  • Korbblütler (Asteraceae).
  • Sow from April to August.
  • Suitable for all floors.

With its fine roots, the marigold creates a fine crumbly soil and supports the formation of humus. In addition, it scores with effective displacement of nematodes if it remains in the bed for at least 4 months. It is said to have an excellent effect against rose fatigue, and as an underplanting of the roses, it also enriches the decorative appearance.

Hardy green manure

Feldsalat (Valerianella)

  • Baldriangewächs (Valerianoideae).
  • Sow in March and April and August to October.
  • Thrives in moist, medium-heavy soils.

As a green manure plant, lamb’s lettuce goes well with all vegetables without carburnets or soil fatigue playing a role. Since lamb’s lettuce is child’s play to remove and rots quickly, it can often be found in the home garden.

Inkarnatklee (clover)

  • Legumes (Fabaceae).
  • Sow from May to August.
  • Loves heavy soils when they are not too damp.

While clover is fought vehemently elsewhere, crimson clover is very welcome in the ornamental and kitchen garden. As the plant grows slowly, a root system up to 120 cm deep develops, which produces plenty of nitrogen. Sowing before or after peas and beans is forbidden because all of them are legumes.

Perserklee (Trifolium)

  • Legumes (Fabaceae).
  • Sow from March to October.
  • Well effective on all types of tree grates.

This clover with the spherical inflorescences sends a tap root up to 60 cm long into the ground, where it collects a lot of nitrogen. Although it grows slowly, over time it forms a considerable amount of vegetation which, when used as a mulch, has the best results in soil improvement.

Winter-Raps (Brassica napus)

  • Kreuzblütler (Brassicaceae).
  • Sow from August to October.
  • Taproot becomes up to 200 cm long.

As beautiful as the bright yellow inflorescences on head-high stems are to look at; the winter rape has no place in vegetable patches with cultivated cabbage varieties and other cruciferous vegetables. On soils with divergent crops, however, it works wonders in loosening the soil.

Winterroggen (Secale)

  • Süßgras (Poaceae)
  • Sow from September to November.
  • Not related to other vegetables.

Organic farmers swear by winter rye as a green manure. It creates plenty of humus, suppresses annoying weeds and roots through the clod up to 120 cm deep. It is particularly useful as a preceding crop for cabbage, potatoes, beans and asparagus.

Hobby gardeners who already use the mixed culture will happily stay true to this principle in the context of green manure. Good to know that there are different variants with their own advantages.

Tempo-green mixture
Composed of fast-growing plants that are sown during the entire vegetation phase up to October. Since they are not hardy, they freeze back in winter to be incorporated into the ground in spring.

Garden doctor mix
A carpet of colorful summer flowers does what the name promises. The soil is healed by nematodes and soil elbows. At the same time, microorganisms are encouraged to be more active in order to increase crop yields.

Flower strip mix
The annual mix contains buckwheat, borage, dill, motherwort, lupins, clover, sunflowers and other ingredients, but no cruciferous vegetables. It was specifically developed for sowing along edge or path strips, where at the same time it contributes to the visual beautification of the garden.

Soil vital treatment
Marigolds and marigolds predominate in this mixture, which thrive in a lavish carpet of flowers. A depleted soil draws new strength, while at the same time nematodes are disgusted.

No question about it, green manure is worthwhile. With a manageable amount of work, a hobby gardener can achieve convincing advantages for his useful and ornamental plants. Adequate preparation of the soil in conjunction with the selection of suitable plants, taking into account the crop rotation, is decisive for a successful implementation. In addition, a little patience is required. If you mow the green manure too early and work the mulch into the clod prematurely, the extent of the soil improvement will be considerably reduced.

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