Definition: Plant material that is chopped or pruned, then spread across soil to slowly decompose and become organic matter. It can be used to protect and improve soil fertility, structure, and moisture conservation, as well as plant growth.
Green Manure in the Forest Garden:
Forest Gardeners can obtain green manure from several sources in their Forest Garden. When designing their Forest Gardens, farmers may decide to incorporate trees into living fences or alleys that are known for providing large quantities of biomass. That way, when they routinely prune to maintain and manage these elements, they can harvest some of these stems and leaves to spread them across their soil. As the leaves and branches decompose, they will become usable organic matter, providing a release of nutrients. This technique is sometimes referred to as “chop and drop”.
Cover cropping is another technique Forest Gardeners can apply for green manure. When cover cropping, many Forest Gardeners will select a legume to not only have the benefits of soil protection and moisture conservation, but also for soil fertility improvement through nitrogen fixation and a harvestable product. Once the harvest is complete, depending on the season, they can leave what remains to eventually decompose, providing fertility for subsequent crops.