Green manures are great at suppressing weeds and increasing the fertility of your soil. As well as many other benefits they are a great organic alternative to artificial fertilizers.
They can be sown at most times of the year but are particularly useful over winter, before Spring. Growing a green manure over winter when plots are empty will stop nutrients and soil being washed away, they can add structure to the soil and when dug in add valued nutrients. They are valuable as part of a crop rotation cycle, particularly before nutrient hungry crops.
How to grow a green manure
- Remove any weeds from the plot and dig over if required
- Spread the seeds evenly according to the instructions from the seed supplier. (e.g grazing rye, 250g covers 15 square metres)
- Rake over or firm down the seeds and water in
- Most green manures will cover the ground within 2 to three weeks. Leave in for at least eight weeks or before flowering. Younger plants are easier to dig in.
- When ready dig the whole plant into the soil and leave for around two weeks to a month to decompose in the soil.
- If you leave the green manure a bit to long and find it difficult to dig in it will make excellent nutrient rich compost.
Green manures can also be grown over a longer period (several seasons). This is useful if you have extremely poor soil or are having trouble controlling perennial weeds in your plot. They can also be cut for digging in and adding nutrients to other areas, as a mulch which will release nutrient slower or for composting and some are also very attractive to wildlife when they flower.
Which green manure to choose? Basically you can choose between legumes and non-legumes. Legumes (eg Field beans) can fix nitrogen in the soil which is released when dug in, Non-legumes produce more organic matter and tend survive more extreme weather.
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, non- governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the worldâ€™s forests. FSC has developed a system of forest certification and product labelling that allows consumers to identify wood and wood-based products from well-managed forests.
What the FSC do
Forests must be managed to the highest environmental, social and economic standards. Trees that are harvested are replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally but it does not stop there. The forests must be managed with due respect for the environment, the wildlife and the people who live and work in them. This is what makes the FSC system unique and ensures that a forest is well-managed, from the protection of indigenous peoples rights to the methods of felling trees.
Every year an area half the size of the UK is cleared of natural forests: temperate and tropical, North and South and on every continent. These forests, which once covered half of the planet, are irreplaceable and their loss has profound economic, social and environmental impacts. Forests support up to 1.6 billion of the poorest people in the world, and 60 million indigenous people and countless species of plants and animals are wholly dependent on forests for their lives. Forests also have a beneficial effect on regulating the climate. Deforestation is a major contributor of CO2 emissions. The products of this deforestation can be found throughout the UK and if you buy these products you could be supporting this destructive timber trade.
For more information visit www.fsc-uk.org
10 Facts about FSC
- You can buy wood products with a clear conscience when you see the FSC logo. FSC forests are managed with consideration for people, wildlife and the environment.
- The FSC label guarantees that the trees that are harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally.
- Parts of the forest are protected entirely, in order to protect rare animals and plants.
- FSC protects the rights of indigenous people to use the forest. If they have sacred sites in the forest these are exempt from felling.
- The forest owner must use local workers to run the forest, and provide training, safety equipment and a decent salary. The forest owner is often obliged to support the community in other ways, such as through the development of schools.
- FSC is a market-based initiative which also ensures better conditions for the forest and the people whose livelihoods depend on it.
- FSC gives an assurance that future generations will be able to enjoy the benefits of the forest.
- All the wood is tracked from the forest to the store. Every link between the forest and the consumer is certified to make it clearly identifiable which wood is FSC certified and which is not.
- FSC is the only wood certification scheme endorsed by the major environmental charities, including WWF, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust.
- The FSC label is not only available on wood for furniture. It can also be found on floors, decking, paper, printed matter, charcoal, kitchen utensils, even venison!
Natural Habitats for British wildlife are rapidly decreasing, why not help by turning your garden into a wildlife haven. A diverse eco-system in your garden can provide habitats for a wonderful variety of wildlife and is a great form of natural pest control.
The important needs of wildlife in any garden are shelter, protection from predators, food and water. We have put together a few handy hints to provide these and get your wildlife haven going.
- Firstly, GO ORGANIC. Reducing the use of pesticides will encourage more insects and birds to visit your garden.
- Leave a wild corner in your garden. This doesn’t need to be a ‘messy area’ pick a place you don’t normally go, like behind the shed or compost heap. Let nettles grow, these have many uses for the organic gardener and they can attract beneficial insects and butterflies. Nettles and brambles also provide cover for larger mammals like hedgehogs.
- Build a pond. Even a small pond or water feature can provide a drink or a habitat for many species. Native wetland and bog plants also thrive in areas around ponds. By encouraging more frogs into your little oasis you can keep the rampaging slugs at bay.
- Plant a bee border. The British bee population has suffered massive losses over the past few years and bees are vital for the pollination of our plants. Try planting a range of nectar rich and native plants, here are a few ideas;
- Plant a butterly border. This border will need plenty of sun and shelter. Butterflies love nectar rich plants. Why not try the following;
- Make a mini meadow. Leave part of your lawn unmown, this will act as protection for frogs, mice and snakes. Why not try planting some native grasses and wild flowers too as these are rapidly declining from our fields.
- Leave some leaf litter. Leaf litter makes a great mulch but can also provide some shelter for some insects and spiders over winter and will also attract ground foraging birds.
- Plant a hedgerow or grow a thicket. They can provide shelter, nesting sites, food and protection. Hawthorns, roses and blackberries are all great for this.
- Create extra wildlife habitats. Supplement your natural habitats with bat and hedgehog boxes, nesting boxes for birds, lady birds, butterflies and lacewings. These can be added to even the smallest garden and can make a huge difference to the populations in your area.
- Grow climbing plants to provide shelter, roosting and breeding sites for birds. Ivy is great for this and will also provide nectar for insects in Autumn and fruit for birds in late winter.
- Create a log pile. Don’t just burn or throw away dead wood it can attract beetles, beneficial insects and mosses. Frogs and toad also enjoy a nice damp pile of logs for shelter too.