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May 23, 2018  |  Login

Grow Green Manure

Improve your soil during the dead winter months and have the perfect ready-to-go garden for next spring!

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How can planting oats and  rye in the Fall help improve the overall health of your garden?  “Green manure” is a type of cover crop and is the backbone of any sustainable garden, big or small.  This late-season growth will add nutrients and organic matter to your garden, which will both protect and improve the soil.  The organic matter will improve the water retention and aeration, while cover crops can also suppress weeds and help control garden pests.

Plant your green manure crop during the fall and winter when your plot is not in use.  This will prepare your soil for the Spring and prevent it from erosion and compaction during the harsh winter months. After the cover crop flowers, kill it. This may sound counterintuitive, but by folding the plants back into the ground you are adding nutrients to the soil, much like adding fertilizer or manure to a plot of land before you plant your vegetables. In general, cover crops need very little care, although mowing keeps large crops manageable. The most common sources of green manure includes: oats, rye, alfalfa, buckwheat and mustard.


Take Action / Next Steps

For more information on Green Manure and Organic Gardening, please see: Different Types of Organic Matter

For information on how to get your cover crop started, visit the Organic Gardening website.


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Did You Know?

Click below for more facts about this tip.



1. Garden Guides. "Green Manure Crops." Available from: [8 April 2009]

2. National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. "Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures." (2003) Available from: [8 April 2009]

3. Organic Gardening. “Cover Crop Basics.” Available from:,7518,s-3-81-789,00.html. [8 April 2009]

4. United States Department of Agriculture. “Soil Quality- Agronomy.” Available from: [10 April 2009].

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