Question on "green manure"

charleskozAugust 29, 2014

When I emptied my garlic bed in July I planted a bunch of bush beans.. just randomly scattered about. The whole bed is now lush and so full I can't see the soil... and they are starting to flower.

I had read that beans could be used to naturally improve soil which is why I planted these. I'm just not sure what to do with them now. :)

Am I supposed to till them under while the plants are at peak as they are now? Let them set beans and then till under then? Or wait until they die?

I assume if I till them under after the beans have matured and seeds have formed -- assuming we don't get a frost first -- I will get another bed of beans next year, which I don't want. :)

Thanks for any help!

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Lloyd

I'm not a gardener but on the farm, we till in the weeds before they set any kind of seed and are still green. A weed being anything that we don't want growing there. Might be wheat, wild oats, canola, thistles, dandelions, etc.

Having said that, beans are in the group of plants that fix nitrogen on their roots so I'd be tempted to harvest the beans for consumption, use the tops for composting and till the roots in. (note the "I'm not a gardener", I do love to compost so I have a bias.)

Lloyd

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 10:10AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

That was going to be my answer. Legumes make nitrogen containing nodules on their roots, as I recall. Eat the beans, and when frost comes, mow down the tops and leave them in place, or cut and compost them. Leave the roots in the ground, or if you need to dig or till, go ahead and do that. A lot of gardeners don't till routinely, and if you decide not to, those roots will decompose in place anyway.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 11:05AM
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charleskoz

Thanks for the replies. I planted them for the nitrogen fixing, just wasn't sure what to do next. Still not entirely sure, but you've given me some ideas. :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Till them in now. Green manure and cover crops are pretty synonymous terms meaning a crop planted to aid in holding the soil in place and meant to add organic matter to the soil as well as add some nutrients to that soil. These crops are tilled in, or sometimes mowed down for a mulch, just before they would set seed, ie. at the peak of their nutrient levels.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 6:59AM
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grubby_AZ

"Eat the beans, and when frost comes, mow down the tops and leave them in place, or cut and compost them. Leave the roots in the ground, or if you need to dig or till, go ahead and do that."

That's your answer. All sorts of approaches will work, and will work just fine.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 8:08PM
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