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In my front garden I have 2 raised beds and this year I grew field beans as an overwintering green manure in one of them. Growing a crop in an otherwise empty bed helped prevent soil erosion and has noticeably kept the weeds down too.

But now I want to start planting some mustard leaf and lettuces in this bed (followed by kale later in the year), so the beans have to go. First of all, I’ve chopped them up,

and then they’ve been incorporated into the soil. This will add organic matter into the bed, which will help aid water retention and also provide valuable nutrients.

Field beans, along with other legumes such as sweet peas, runner beans and peas, have root nodules that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available in a form that plants can use- jolly useful this. It’s always a good idea to grow brassicas such as kale, cabbage and broccoli, which are nitrogen hungry, in a bed where legumes were growing previously. Different green manures can be sown at different times of year and are always beneficial, whether it’s to have flowers that will attract pollinating insects or as above, to protect and add nutrients into the soil. Most seed companies now offer a variety of green manure seeds to suit your soil and time of year for sowing. Worth bearing in mind if you ever have a bare piece of ground that could do with a little bit of improvement.

p.s. Just received a great bog about sowing tomatoes from ‘youshouldgrowthat’ with a link to a good ‘how to’ advice too.

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