The Q&A Archives: Green Manure Cover Crop

Question: I am getting ready to plant a crop of bell beans as a ground cover and green manure for the winter in my garden. I am unsure of how to plant them. What are the specific instructions? None were sent to me with my order of beans. Any help that you may give would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Bell Beans (Vicia faba) are great nitrogen fixers, and have deep taproots, so they penetrate the soil well. You can broadcast your seed over the area after breaking the surface up with a rake. The bean seeds will germinate when there's plenty of moisture from fall rains and the soil temperature is as low as 35F - 50F degrees. The plants will grow best when air temperature is between 50F - 60F degrees. These plants can grow 2'-6' tall, with an equal spread. You can sow the seeds 6" apart, in rows 30" apart, if you want a nice, neat effect. Otherwise, just broadcast the seed on the surface of the soil and rake a little more soil over the top. They'll take off in no time at all.

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