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Green Manure Crops & Crop Rotation

There are many benefits to growing green manure crops, mainly to improve soil conditions for growing your next crop of healthy vegetables. These benefits include higher nitrogen availability, additional organic matter, increased beneficial micro organisms, improved soil structure and water retention, breaking up hard soil, and in some cases soil fumigation and weed suppression.¬† I would highly recommend growing green manure plants as part of a crop rotation strategy – don’t have one? I’ll show you how ūüôā

What is green manure?

Green manure consists of leguminous plants such as those in the peas, beans and grass family which have nitrogen fixing capabilities. Liberally distribute or broadcast seeds in your pots or garden plot, and after around 6 weeks, “chop and drop” these plants and dig it into the soil and leave to break down for 1-2 weeks to add nutrients back into the soil. Don’t wait till it begins to flower or fruit or you will lose these nutrients.

For our tropical climate in Singapore, I would suggest the following:

  • Mustard seed
  • Cowpea
  • Pigeon pea
  • Soy bean
  • Green bean / Mung bean
  • Winged bean
  • Lab Lab

If you happen to forget to chop and drop your plant in time, at least you can eat the pods of pea and bean plants, or use mustard seeds, leaves and flowers in your cooking. If you are looking to purchase some of these seeds, I have cowpea and lablab available here. I will eventually update this post to include links where you can buy these seeds.

Cowpea plant

A Visit to Telopea Mountain Permaculture & Nursery in Victoria, Australia

During my recent visit to Melbourne, I was kindly invited by Anthony of AusPots Permaculture to pay a visit to his permaculture mentor’s farm and nursery in Monbulk – Telopea Mountain Permaculture & Nursery, a 15 acre property. Formerly a cut-flower farm, it has been transformed into a biodynamic, permaculture farm and nursery by Peter and Silvia, who primarily run the space, and occasionally they have some helping hands for much needed assistance.

Peter manages the plants, while Silvia is in charge of animal husbandry. Telopea Mountain Permaculture & Nursery houses more than 1000 heritage fruit varieties, and has the largest private collection of apple varieties in Australia, they also sell rootstock and scion wood from organic and biodynamic fruit trees. They own rare breeds of animals, including poultry, which I got to admire from a distance. In addition, they conduct permaculture courses, cheese making classes, as well as heritage fruit tree classes, among others.

The nursery is open on Fridays but an appointment is necessary if you would like a farm tour. Anthony shared that he likes to drop by on this day to see Peter and Silvia and also to see which other permies are around for a chat.

Telopea Mountain Permaculture poultryTelopea Mountain Permaculture duck eggsTelopea Mountain Permaculture Orchard 1

WWOOFing in Japan

Have you ever considered spending several months at a time farming in Japan as part of the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) programme? Shermain, Ken and Kai Ni took time off work last year to do just that, hopping from one farm to the next, accumulating meaningful memories, a vast array of knowledge, and friendships along the way. Shermain even ended up finding employment in Kagawa, where she is now based.

Shermain travelled as an individual while Ken and Kai Ni travelled as a couple. In this post, they relate their WWOOFing experiences, and dispense some advice on how you can be prepared for your adventure!

Shermain Pea

1. How long did you go for and which towns did you visit?

Total: Almost 6 months.

I WOOFed from 2nd August 2016 Р30th October 2016, went and volunteered at Kamikatsu from 21st Nov to 15th Dec, and then back to Kagawa to WWOOF all the way till 25th Jan.

Places that I WWOOFed at:

Hiroshima  (h30077)

Ayagawa, Kagawa (h32438)

Shizouka (h6885)

Fujino (Kanagawa) (h35620)

Where to WWOOF in Fujino, Kanagawa


Welcome to part 3 of a series on Fujino, Kanagawa, Japan. If you’re smitten with what Fujino has to offer and would like to work for board and lodging as part of a WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) arrangement, here are four places you can WWOOF at, and if you’re adventurous enough, you can do them all!:

1. Fujino Club

I have written an extensive post on Fujino Club here, it’s a great first-time WWOOFing location, and ideal for those who enjoy¬†farm as well as kitchen work. Fujino Club uses natural farming methods, and from what I understand, they will also be employing permaculture methods from 2017.

To WWOOF with Fujino Club, find them on the WWOOF Japan network under Kanagawa in the Kanto region.


Permaculture Center Japan in Fujino, Kanagawa


In my recent post on Fujino Club, I mentioned my visit to Permaculture Center Japan (PCCJ) in Fujino, Kanagawa. Here is a walkthrough of my experience there. It would not have happened without the help of the people at Fujino Club, who helped organise this trip, and I would like to acknowledge them for their kindness.

This is part two of a three part series on Fujino, Kanagawa, with a focus on WWOOFing and permaculture. WWOOF stands for WorldWide Opportunity on Organic Farms).

PCCJ Founder Mr Kiyokazu Shidara found some time amid his busy schedule to give a few of us a tour of their permaculture demonstration site. He elaborated that it has been designed as a self sufficient site, and in summer, it is possible to live there.

Here is Mr Shidara, explaining the design of the plot of land from a vantage point. He walks around with a toolbelt, and the ‘kama’ – a popular Japanese hand tool for weeding, was visibly sticking out at the side.