Green Manure in the Small Garden

Planting buckwheat as a green manure crop helps solve pest problems and attract pollinators.
By Susan Grelock
February/March 1999
Add to My MSN

Buckwheat is a quick-growing green manure crop that helps keep pests off your vegetables.

Content Tools

Related Content

A Quick Guide to Reclaiming Your Garden's Soil

A newly acquired garden or an over-spent allotment can have poor-quality soil, making it more diffic...

Edamame Soybean Plants Are Tough

Edamame soybeans are tough,fast-maturing plants that can withstand extreme garden conditions. They h...

Start a Compost Pile to Help Your Garden Grow

Relatively trouble-free compost piles can be tailored to suit your needs and kept in a wide variety ...

Chicken Manure in the Garden: Build a Bigger Coop to Take Advantage of the Poop

Find out how you can put manure — our greatest yet perhaps most misunderstood natural resource — to ...

MOTHER readers share their best tips.

I have been interested in green manure crops for some time, but I couldn't figure out when a small garden could give up the space to grow a nonedible crop. This season, I found out.

Our garden was bombarded again and again with pests. Diligently, I would reseed the blank spots in the beds with any leftover seeds I had, but the seedlings kept getting attacked. Eventually, it was getting a little late in the season for starting anything new, so I filled in all of the blank spots with buckwheat, a green manure crop (and the only seeds I had left!).

It came up fast, getting established before any pests could get it. The grasshoppers nibbled some, but I was happy to have them there, rather than on the surviving vegetable plants. The buckwheat filled in the patches quickly and began to shade the ground and the existing plants (a real lifesaver in our hot, arid climate). Within a few weeks, it was producing masses of beautiful white flowers, which attracted lots of bees; the plots with the buckwheat hummed with pollination much more than did the plots without it.

When the plants matured, I gathered the seed for making sprouts in the winter and planting in the garden next spring. I tilled the leaves and stems into the garden plots, adding lots of organic matter and phosphorous to the soil. Now that I know how helpful green manure can be, I'll be sure to squeeze it onto next spring's planting roster, whether I have insect damage or not.

 -Susan Grelock
Ash Fork, Arizona  

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.