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Video: What Are Siderates And What They Are. Using Green Manure As Live Mulch
"Live mulch" - green manure helps to reduce labor costs and increase yields. Part 2
Read the first part of the article: Mulching experience: what and how to prepare mulch
Unfortunately, so far not so many gardeners know what green manure is. Even fewer of them can give examples of green manure crops. I am already silent about their use on my sites. Although, in fairness, it is worth noting that some gardeners successfully plant potato fields with winter rye after harvest. Some people sow lupine for compost at the fence, but in general this area is still very little used.
What are siderates? They are called green manure, manure substitute, and natural mulch. All of this is absolutely true, but the essence of these cultures is both simple and unique. They have an amazing property to develop a powerful root system and a huge green mass in a short time, they decompose very quickly, structure well and enrich the soil with valuable nutrients. Each crop is unique and suitable for its soil type and subsequent main crop.
I will not give a botanical characterization of each culture here. I just want to share my experience on the siderates that I use and tell why they are needed at all.
Initially, it should be noted that I do not dig the ground on my site. I work with a shovel only for preparing planting holes, drainage trenches, etc.
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A few words about why I don't dig. Soil is, unfortunately or fortunately, not a homogeneous organism, but a very complex biosystem. Any digging of the soil violates its mechanical and organic structure. First of all, natural channels that supply plants with moisture and air are destroyed. The soil becomes structureless, and its so-called "looseness", which we are so proud of after a thorough digging, is lost after the first good rain.
In the first years of the development of the site, when I saw a compressed layer of clay in the beds, I immediately grabbed the hoe-ripper. And she spent more than one hour at this lesson. Alas, my achievements were enough until the next rain. In addition, it is no longer a secret for anyone that the soil is a living structure and is inhabited not only by our favorite helper worms, but also by a great variety of microorganisms and microscopic fungi invisible to the eye. And they are also very different and require different conditions of existence.
Only bacteria are divided into three classes according to the type of respiration - aerobes, anaerobes and facultative, and according to the type of nutrition - into autotrophs and heterotrophs. And they live in different soil layers - aerobes only in the upper, air-permeable layer, which is about 5 cm, anaerobes, on the contrary, in the lower, airless layers of the soil.
Now imagine what happens if you take a shovel and dig up the soil, mixing its layers. At best, in an attempt to preserve themselves, the bacteria will "fall asleep", turning into spores, at worst, they will die. It's hard to put all this in your head, right? And it's even more difficult to understand what needs to be done, because our grandfathers dug, our great-grandfathers dug …
Start small - with a bag of green manure. They are the ones, and I believe that this is their main function - they replace my shovel. Well, dig the soil with a shovel a meter and a half, or even two in depth! And they do it. And without any effort on your part, and most importantly - without disturbing the soil structure. In addition, they themselves create this structure, leaving behind a unique network of intertwining large canals and soil capillaries, almost invisible to the eye, through which nutrients will go to our garden pets.
And if you remember about crop rotation? I don’t think that many of you, including myself, drag a tomato greenhouse or a cucumber greenhouse around the site every year. I am already silent about the potato field. Siderata come to the rescue here too, joining the crop rotation as a catch crop.
But let's start over. What green manure do I use? In fact, they can all be divided into three types (at least, I divided them so for myself). These are the so-called "fast" siderates, which include crops from the cruciferous family - rape (especially my favorite), oil radish, mustard, rapeseed. All of them are characterized by a very fast ripening period. It takes only 30-45 days from germination to flowering, which allows the use of these crops in the off-season.
Rapeseed and olive radish are "my" crops, they are perfectly adapted to different climatic zones and different types of soils, including heavy loams. In addition, oil radish actively suppresses nematodes, although I have never encountered this scourge.
Mustard and rapeseed are more capricious. They grow rather poorly on poorly cultivated, humus-poor soils with an acid reaction, and do not like sandy soils. But when sown on rich, high-nitrogen soils, they contribute to the binding of nitrates and reduce their leaching into groundwater. In addition, they enrich the soil with organic matter, phosphorus and sulfur, and mustard also helps in the fight against wireworm. On my site, I sow mustard and rapeseed only in greenhouses at the beginning of the season. In general, I sow cruciferous green manures twice a year, in early spring, before planting the main crops, and in the fall - after harvesting.
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In the spring, as soon as the snow melts, and even earlier in the greenhouses - at the end of March, I loosen the ground with the "Kozma" flat-cutter and sow one of the named siderates randomly. Shoyu is very dense, exceeding the norms specified in the instructions two times. I lightly cover the seeds with a rake and cover them with SUF17 spunbond. And in this form, you can leave the beds even until the very cut. Literally in a couple of days, under a light blanket of spunbond, the first shoots, typical of any representative of the cruciferous family, begin to appear. And after a month, the garden bed turns into a solid green carpet, leaving almost no weed a chance.
Here is another very valuable property of green manure - suppression of the development of weeds. And they do it very successfully. Why do weeds grow at all? Because it is unusual for the earth to be empty. As soon as there is even a piece of bare earth - get a fresh weed! And we have how much time is wasted land in the same greenhouses? Naturally, weeds have plenty of space. Siderata, on the other hand, overtake most types of weeds in terms of development rates, having time to cover the land completely before their development. In some places, weeds, especially wheatgrass, still pop up, trying to find a place for themselves in the sun, but they are so weak that it is no longer difficult to cope with them.
Spring is coming to an end, the sun is already warming like summer. It is time to plant seedlings of heat-loving crops. Looking at our beds, we see here and there the gentle lights of the first flowers. Siderata enter the second, no less important phase of their life. How to deal with them further - we look at the weather. If it is wet, cool, and the sun is not a frequent visitor to the spring sky, then we take up the plane cutter (I, of course, for my beloved "Kozma") and cut off all the green mass at the root, after which you can slightly close the cut into the ground, chopping with a cut or just a shovel, or you can leave it that way. The result is a thick carpet of nutritious mulch.
If the weather, like last year, is hot and sunny, then let the plane cutter rest for now, and we will plant the seedlings in the greenhouse right on the green carpet. I make planting holes with a well-sharpened garden drill. It is very convenient - you "bite in" with sharp knives in any pre-selected place of the green coating and make a cylindrical hole with smooth edges. We leave the rest of the green manure intact for another week, and then cut it off with a flat cutter or other tool.
What does it give us? Usually, seedlings brought from home windowsills are very delicate and not prepared for the open sun and high temperatures, especially at noon in the greenhouse. Good for those who have loggias, verandas and the opportunity to accustom seedlings to the street. I don't have all this. Therefore, such a planting is simply the salvation of all spring labors. Siderata create an excellent openwork shade, not allowing the sun to burn out the delicate leaves white white, or even completely destroy the plants. In addition, the land also remains closed, which significantly reduces watering and contributes to a faster and more painless survival of seedlings.
A week is quite enough time for the adaptation of the planted plants. Therefore, as soon as you see that the seedlings have taken root and started growing, immediately mow the siderates, because all greenhouse crops are very light-loving and can stretch out, which will create additional difficulties for you and me.
In a month, or even less after planting seedlings, if your land is alive, there will be no trace of the siderates. Everything will be eaten by small soil dwellers. Remember to replenish their feeders by spreading a new layer of mulch on the ground. Last year, a week after mowing, only small straws remained from the oil radish, in rare bunches yellowing under the growing strength of the tomatoes.
I did not mention one more disadvantage of these unpretentious crops. Unfortunately, if a cruciferous flea reigns on your site, you will have to abandon the crops of siderates of this family. And with the main crops it will be hard. In addition, do not forget about crop rotation - refrain from growing this group of green manures in front of all types of cabbage, when re-sowing radishes, black radishes, turnips, etc.
Read the end of the article: What are the siderates
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