Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sowing wildflower meadows from seed

September and October are without a doubt the best months for creating a wild flower meadow from seed.  After all, it's when most seeds are distributed naturally...wherever I wander I see seedheads in various stages of development, wild berries are ripening and on the ground, there are a few tiny seedlings just beginning to show themselves.

In early autumn the soil is still lovely and warm, it's nice and moist and conditions are perfect for setting seed.  Some wild flower seeds need to have a frost or two on them before they'll germinate....so for species such as yellow rattle or cowslip, it's no good having the seed packets languishing in a drawer until spring.

How to grow wild flowers from seed

I have a sneaking suspicion (actually I'm sure) that when I began my experiment to compare wildflower seeds with Meadowmat, I didn't allow enough time to prepare the ground properly.  It's absolutely vital that every single perennial weed is removed before sowing a wildflower meadow.  I chose to dig out the docks and the bindweed that had sneaked into the patch, but I think I should really have swallowed my pride and my anti-herbicide policy and resorted to using a systemic weedkiller.  It might have saved me a lot of kneeling and weeding. 

With deep rooted weeds and grasses out of the way, the ground can be prepared as though you were going to lay Meadowmat

Then instead of unrolling Meadowmat - simply sprinkle on wildflower meadow seed at a rate of 5 grams per square metre..careful! If you spread it on too thickly you'll find that when the plants do grow, they'll out-compete each other.

Keep the soil moist, and the birds at bay; watch out for cats, who love to dig in freshly prepared soil, and wait for mother nature to do the rest.

Which is best? wildflowers from seed or Meadowmat?

If you have patience and perseverence, growing a wildflower meadow from seed is a cost effective way of supporting butterflies and bees in your garden.  If you're less patient - try installing Meadowmat OR better still, combine the two techniques.  Have areas of Meadowmat for instant maturity and seed in between them to help keep costs down.
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