I am planning to sow my broad beans ( Superaquadulce) into a bed that was heavily mulched a month ago. Would it be OK to sow the beans into the soil through the mulch or would it be better to use an un-mulched bed and then mulch in early spring next year. I am concerned that the beans sown through the mulch may put on too much winter growth which then could be susceptible to frosts.
Hi Alan, I replied to this and then forgot to save it! I noticed last winter that beans sown as you describe, with a mulch of (in my case) two inches home made compost, survived the winter well and did not grow too fast or soft. Also I covered a different sowing with two inches of cow manure and results were equally good.
Manure and compost that are well decomposed, dark brown, stacked for 6 months or more in the case of animal manure, contain nutrients that are mostly insoluble in water, and available to plants only when conditions are correct for growth. This is in contrast to water soluble nutrients which can ‘flood’ roots and cause soft growth. Hence it is fine to spread well decomposed manure and compost at any time of year without fear of leaching, and spreading it in autumn is excellent soil food for hungry organisms such as worms which are looking for organic matter at this time of year.
Compost and manure are soil food as much as plant food. I find that garlic sown in October and covered with two inches cow manure grows huge bulbs by late June, then I also grow wonderful brassicas, beans, beetroot etc without any further addition of organic matter, or anything else. So the nutrients remain in composted manure (and compost) until plants need them.
The mulch I applied was well rotted stable manure which had been stacked for some 9 months. So I shall go ahead and sow the beans through it as you suggest. I may also give my garlic ( now sown in beds) a good helping of mulch from the same batch of manure. I had a great crop of garlic last season and have used the larger cloves as my ‘seed’ garlic so looking forward to seeing what next season brings forth.