Years ago I saw an episode of Gardening Australia about green manure. It was before I found out I had green thumbs but still I found the concept interesting. The idea that you could grow something which would give more to the soil than it took and improve the soil structure in the process just seems really smart. So the time finally arrived to process the broad beans the other day and the size of this entry is testament to how much work the whole process was!
Here's the mountain of plants extracted from the bed. Luckily despite their unearthly size, Broad Beans are a pushover when it comes to up-rooting as they have a small shallow root structure.
I stripped the plants back as I pulled them out primarily to reduce the amount of seeds that might end up in the manure and so we could freeze them and spend ages wondering what to do with them.
In the absence of having a suitable petrol powered tree mulcher, I resorted to the tried and tested technique of running over the beans with the lawn mover. Its unsurprisingly effective and probably means i'll never need to buy a mulcher.
The only thing the mover wasn't particularly happy with were the woody nobly bits at the base of the plants.
The end product was this lush green mulch with a distinctly beany odour.
Three wheelbarrows of the stuff!
I had to decide whether or not to turn the mulch into the soil where it would break down quicker or to leave it on the surface. I decided to leave it on the top as it will still break down over time but it will also act as an excellent mulch for the soon to be sewn crop of corn which will go in shortly.
While I was reading up on green manure I came across this guy. http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com/
He uses crop rotation and green manure on an industrial scale and grows some mean tomatos as well.