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Author Topic: Green Manures and Legumes  (Read 849 times)

Offline bwallace23350

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Green Manures and Legumes
« on: December 19, 2017, 11:50:50 am »
I want to get away from using actual manure in my garden. Does anyone have any expertise in this?

Offline little john

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2017, 01:09:13 pm »
Have you tried composting ?
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2017, 05:10:27 pm »
I do. But it is hard to compost enough for the size of my garden but I do use compost.

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2017, 08:39:08 pm »
Get a trailer and drive sround, gathering the grass clippings idiots bag up and put at the curb and you can get lots of compost.  That's what you used to be able to do in Dallas, anyway.  People put fertilizer on lawns, the lawns grow like crazy, they water, they cut, bag and send all that fertilizer-rich grass to the landfill.  Then they start all over.  Disgusting!  Well, obviously I'm not really advocating that you do that.  You don't have any idea what else they've done to their lawns.  But the elementary school in my neighborhood has a "farm" where the kids grow all kinds of things.  I have two pecan trees that drop tons of leaves each fall.  A lot of those leaves wind up in the compost at the school.  I've been a Master Gardener for 25 years.  I didn't start out doing things the organic way, but that's the way it evolved.  Good luck to you.
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Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2017, 08:48:28 pm »
See if expanded shale is available in your area.  It's shale that has been heated to 1,700 degrees F.  It looks like pea gravel after they heat it up, but it's like popcorn in a way, because it's full of air pockets that will hold air and water.  I put down about four inches of this stuff on my clay soil (works the same on sandy soil, though), till it in as deep as I can, then add four inches of compost and till that in.  You would not believe how things grow in this amended soil.  Talk to your county agent and see if they have any information on this.

Expanded shale is not available everywhere.  I've tried in Minnesota, where my sister lives and they say "what's that?"

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Offline Acebird

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2017, 01:46:32 pm »
I want to get away from using actual manure in my garden.
Why?  Offensive odor or too hard to handle.
I wouldn't touch grass clippings with a ten foot pole if the garden is for edible plants.  The greatest available amount of compost would be leaves.  Even that is a risk.  The question is what do you have for tilling equipment?
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2017, 11:01:28 am »
I want to get away from using actual manure in my garden.
Why?  Offensive odor or too hard to handle.
I wouldn't touch grass clippings with a ten foot pole if the garden is for edible plants.  The greatest available amount of compost would be leaves.  Even that is a risk.  The question is what do you have for tilling equipment?

I worry about heavy metals and antibiotic residue in it. I am using cow manure this year. Why would not touch grass clippings?

Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2017, 11:02:20 am »
I also use grass, food leftovers, leaves, and such. The grass comes from me and it has no pesticides or anything like that applied. Most of the time it never even has fertilizer applied.

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2017, 04:08:45 pm »
Leaves provide carbonaceous material, but no nitrogen to help the leaves break down.  Fresh grass clippings provide the nitroge.  You'll get finished compost much faster by using grass clippings.  Otherwise, what you have is called leaf mold.
"Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no laws, no court can save it." - Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Offline Acebird

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2017, 05:44:36 pm »
Why would not touch grass clippings?

I assumed it was someone else's lawn which could be a toxic waste dump.  If you have enough grass clippings from your own lawn then fine but what about the lawn?  People who remove the clippings have to fertilize their lawn because they are taking away the nutrients.  So are you going to sacrifice your lawn for your garden?
I think you are better off using leaves and getting your own chickens to add the nitrogen.  You just got to be willing to cull them every couple of years or else give them to someone that will.  Spring and Fall you let the chickens till the soil, eat the weed seeds and the grubs.

I would lean towards horse manure over cow manure because of what they do to cows.  The down side is you have to battle weeds unless you let it cook.
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Offline minz

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2017, 01:47:31 am »
I used to plant several different types, I would put it into the rotation as part of my plan (just an excel sheet that I put dates of things on). There are different types and different conditions. Something like buckwheat you can put in after sweet corn. Your Fava actually needs to be planted and spaced. In years it did well it needed to be cut before being turned in. It needed to be turned in soon enough to rot some before planting (so too big a pain). I tried a type of common vetch that was too stringy to run through the tiller and came back. The in-laws are into turnips. They cover well, grow in the cool weather and leave lots of root material. I do not know how they turn down.
I asked the Oregon extension and they suggested covering the garden over winter as a better move (it rains all winter and washes all the nutrients out of the soil).
I now fence the chickens on my garden and slop them with all the food garbage. It looks like I ran a tiller through it. Figure I get the added benefit of the bugs being gone.
Poor decisions make the best stories.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2017, 09:59:28 am »
I tried a type of common vetch that was too stringy to run through the tiller and came back.
Do you think there would be an advantage to mowing first?  I have a flail mower that I usually use at the end of the season to chop everything up before I use the bottom plow.  It works great when dealing with corn stalks.  I am thinking it might be a solution for the vetch if it is stringy.  I never planted vetch.
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2017, 10:28:51 am »
Why would not touch grass clippings?

I assumed it was someone else's lawn which could be a toxic waste dump.  If you have enough grass clippings from your own lawn then fine but what about the lawn?  People who remove the clippings have to fertilize their lawn because they are taking away the nutrients.  So are you going to sacrifice your lawn for your garden?
I think you are better off using leaves and getting your own chickens to add the nitrogen.  You just got to be willing to cull them every couple of years or else give them to someone that will.  Spring and Fall you let the chickens till the soil, eat the weed seeds and the grubs.

I would lean towards horse manure over cow manure because of what they do to cows.  The down side is you have to battle weeds unless you let it cook.

I try not to fertilize my yard so I don't have to cut the grass but it is actually the grass around the garden that I keep cut. These are cows that are just roaming around in my pasture they have not made it to the feedlots yet. I just might have to get chickens. That might be ideal. Thanks for the help.

Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2017, 10:30:30 am »
I used to plant several different types, I would put it into the rotation as part of my plan (just an excel sheet that I put dates of things on). There are different types and different conditions. Something like buckwheat you can put in after sweet corn. Your Fava actually needs to be planted and spaced. In years it did well it needed to be cut before being turned in. It needed to be turned in soon enough to rot some before planting (so too big a pain). I tried a type of common vetch that was too stringy to run through the tiller and came back. The in-laws are into turnips. They cover well, grow in the cool weather and leave lots of root material. I do not know how they turn down.
I asked the Oregon extension and they suggested covering the garden over winter as a better move (it rains all winter and washes all the nutrients out of the soil).
I now fence the chickens on my garden and slop them with all the food garbage. It looks like I ran a tiller through it. Figure I get the added benefit of the bugs being gone.

Thanks and all good suggestions. I am going to go with buckwheat and some clover this year. I will let everyone know how it works. I also do rotate the planted parts of my garden and keep the unplanted parts mowed.

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2017, 03:13:30 pm »
Why would not touch grass clippings?

I assumed it was someone else's lawn which could be a toxic waste dump.  If you have enough grass clippings from your own lawn then fine but what about the lawn?  People who remove the clippings have to fertilize their lawn because they are taking away the nutrients.  So are you going to sacrifice your lawn for your garden?
I think you are better off using leaves and getting your own chickens to add the nitrogen. 


Ace, I agree with what you say about the nitrogen.  For about 20 years, I used a mulching mower on my St. Augustine lawn and had the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood because everybody else used lawn services that bagged clippings and sent them to the landfill or carried them to their farms and composted them for their own use.  About the time I turned 80, I gave my mower away (it had gotten kind of cantankerous because of the ethanol in gasoline anyway) and hired a lawn service.  My lawn got to where it looked really sad.  Now I put down a pure nitrogen fertilizer once or twice a year and it's looking great again. 

My neighbors vetoed the idea of chickens and, since they had gone along with bees, I let that idea go. 

About the buckwheat:  does the seed have to be put in with a drill or can it be broadcast?  There's a wildscape park near my house that I'd like to see growing some buckwhat, but I don't have a tractor.  I've read something about buckwheat reseeding or whatever you call it once you have a crop growing if you just let it go to seed.  Anything to that?
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Offline minz

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2017, 10:03:18 pm »
We do not get rain all summer so when I put in the buckwheat they jump on it. My spread sheet says to put it in NLT September 15 (12 weeks before frost). It also suggests that I put it in right after peas and harvest so that I do not have to purchase it each year. Did seed saving by hitting the plants on the edge of the wheel barrow in November 2012, last entry for planting it was in September 2015. I do not recall it self seeding in my gardens

My neighbor used to bag all his leaves and dump them on my garden. His inlaws have cut down every deciduous tree and put in a mobile home.
Poor decisions make the best stories.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2017, 09:53:58 am »
About the buckwheat:  does the seed have to be put in with a drill or can it be broadcast?  There's a wildscape park near my house that I'd like to see growing some buckwhat, but I don't have a tractor.  I've read something about buckwheat reseeding or whatever you call it once you have a crop growing if you just let it go to seed.  Anything to that?

You certainly can broad cast it.  It is the most aggressive seed I have ever seen.  The issue with natural reseeding is all the seed won't fall at the same time.  If some weeds got into the field they are already mature so as aggressive as the plant is you will get spotty results.  That is why I decided to clip the seeds and mow the field after the seeds were mature.  I used a gas powered hedge trimmer to clip off the seed pods.  Didn't take long at all.  Grass is the toughest weed to deal with because mowing it doesn't kill it.  Without using roundup you are going to get grasses.
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2018, 06:23:01 pm »
I have heard that used coffee grounds are good also. Anyone have any experience with this?

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2018, 07:00:03 pm »
Coffee grounds can be very beneficial. I've heard Starbucks and the like will give you coffee grounds.  Coffee grounds are acidic, so they are good for your soil if it's on the Alkaline side.  Don't use it around tomatoes.  Good as a fertilizer because as they break down they release nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.  If you'd prefer a neutral pH, rinse the coffee grounds before spreading over or working into the soil.
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Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2018, 07:03:02 pm »
Thanks for the info on broadcasting buckwheat seeds, Ace.  I would have thought they'd germinate in the spring, so glad I asked and you answered with the time of year to broadcast.
"Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no laws, no court can save it." - Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2018, 07:04:21 pm »
My mistake.  It was Minz that said to broadcast in fall..
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2018, 11:40:20 am »
Coffee grounds can be very beneficial. I've heard Starbucks and the like will give you coffee grounds.  Coffee grounds are acidic, so they are good for your soil if it's on the Alkaline side.  Don't use it around tomatoes.  Good as a fertilizer because as they break down they release nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.  If you'd prefer a neutral pH, rinse the coffee grounds before spreading over or working into the soil.

So they have to be rinsed and not just used already for making coffee?

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2018, 12:32:58 pm »
We're talking about grounds here.  I think that means already used.  So after they've made the morning's 50-gallon pot at Starbucks, the grounds are used up.  No coffee stuff left to keep you up all night.  Now it's only good for something else.  But the grounds are too acidic for some things just as you get them from the nice barista, but just right for things like azaleas, so you don't rinse them for plants that like acidic conditions and for things that prefer a more neutral pH, you rinse.  The grounds will break down fast and become part of the soil.  And they're free if the barista likes you.  Free is good and you're performing a public service by keeping them out of the landfill.  What's not to like about it?
"Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no laws, no court can save it." - Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2018, 01:35:29 pm »
We're talking about grounds here.  I think that means already used.  So after they've made the morning's 50-gallon pot at Starbucks, the grounds are used up.  No coffee stuff left to keep you up all night.  Now it's only good for something else.  But the grounds are too acidic for some things just as you get them from the nice barista, but just right for things like azaleas, so you don't rinse them for plants that like acidic conditions and for things that prefer a more neutral pH, you rinse.  The grounds will break down fast and become part of the soil.  And they're free if the barista likes you.  Free is good and you're performing a public service by keeping them out of the landfill.  What's not to like about it?

I think I might get them in bulk and wash them off. I live my garden most years anyway.

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2018, 04:03:40 pm »
Bwallace, what kind of soil do you have there?  If it's clay, you might want to add the grounds without rinsing.  If it's already acid soil (if you have pine trees, azaleasgrow well, etc., your soul is acidic) you still might be okay without rinsing.  The best advice I can give is to call your county ag agent's office and ask a Master Gardener what you should do.  I'm honestly not sure why you'd want neutral pH, but the literature I've read said rinsing would neutralize the pH.  There's a lot online about coffee grounds as a soil additive, but your local Master Gardener would be a good source for guidance on your local conditions.  That goes for just  about any question you might have about increasing the yield from your garden.  Another thing is to have your soil tested.  Again, your Master Gardener can supply you with a soil test kit and instructions and your state Extension Service will test for a nominal fee and tailor their response to your soil conditions and what you plan to grow.
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2018, 06:26:04 pm »
Yeah where we live all our soil is acidic. But thanks. I should test my soil soon.

Offline Dallasbeek

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2018, 06:53:04 pm »
Welcome.  And blame my poor typing for saying your soul was acidic :cool:  I don't know a thing about your soul, but I'm assuming it's beautiful, while your SOIL is acidic.
"Liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no laws, no court can save it." - Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Offline minz

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2018, 12:24:58 am »
I used the coffee grounds around my blueberries for years. the grounds come out of the espresso machines as small, packed pucks of very fine grounds. Even after you rake them and break them up they will form an almost sand like consistency and be almost water repellant.  The grounds form into hard little dikes that repel water. Ants love them.
Our local coffee shop leaves them in 10 lb bags by the door. Not starbucks but Arrow. When you are looking for them they are obvious.  I am back to using saw dust.
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Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Green Manures and Legumes
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2018, 12:35:54 pm »
Thanks and good information to know