With full moon upon us tomorrow, it is a great time to be sowing your garden with above green manure crops for winter feasting.
Broad beans are a versatile crop to plant for winter, as they have many uses. They can be planted as a green manure crop to fix nitrogen to the soil and a soil conditioner, or they can be planted for their delicious beans.
I love them young and raw, popped into a salad, or you can let them get larger and either add them to stews or make delicious falafels out of them! Yum!
Remember broad beans can get pretty high, so it is best to plant them at the back of your garden to prevent them shading other smaller crops. If you plant broad beans close together, they will support each other.
Broad beans are an excellent source of fibre and protein and are rich in folate and B vitamins, which the body needs for nerve and blood cell development. All in all, broad beans offer such benefits – even if you don’t like to eat them, your soil will thank you for their nitrogen-fixing properties.
Top tip: When sowing these seeds, you will find they germinate quicker when soaked overnight then you can either direct sow or plant into seed trays for pricking out later.
Now is also a great time for planting silverbeet, rocket, endive, peas, parsley, coriander and celery. If you are not a winter gardener (why not, I may ask? You’re missing out!) it is best to dig over your beds and sow with green manure crops of lupins, broad beans, wheat, oats and for a quick green manure crop, sow mustard.
The above green manure crops must be cut down before they go to flower to keep the nitrogen in the soil. I either pull mine or chop them down before flowering, then they can be dug into the soil. So not only do they fix nitrogen to the soil, but add much needed carbon to our soils, and their nitrogen fixing root aerates the soil and encourages worm activity.
If your soil is still too hard, don’t despair, you can plant green manure crops right up until June.