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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Creating a muddy home for wild flower meadow seeds …

Above: mowing the field ready for wild flower seed

Robert, my farming neighbour and big helper, had called me during the week to say he had not mowed the field next to my yard. He had been worried about the mess it would make … wet, sodden grown combined with a heavy tractor went against the farming grain for Robert. He knew that this was very possibly what I might want but preferred me to see it first.

So, we agreed to meet on Saturday afternoon to review the situation. I would not be able to guess what kind of a mud bath it might make, but my feeling was it would be good to mess the field up to allow wild flower seed to take root. Robert came with his big orange Renault tractor and an old 8’0 wide mower attached to the back. This is a pretty brutal device, with two large blunt rotors running under a metal plate supported by a sledge blade on either side. He did a few short test runs with the mower across the field so we could judge how much grass was cut, and how the ground was messed up as we adjusted the blade height. We ended up on the lowest setting.

Above: Robert adjusting the mower height, the mess we made and 2 x 4keed bags

The result was, I think, good. Ideally, we would have removed the grass (getting nutrients off the land … better for wild flowers, worse for new grass), but we did not have the kit for this. But the grass was neatly piled into rows with short grass and bits of bare ground between. This, I felt, was good ground for the seed. Better get on with the experiment than wait for the ideal starting point.

This done, I called Rob Parry at INCCymru (Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru to tell him we could get on with the fun bit. He had managed to get hold of an 8kg batch of seed from the National Botanic Garden of Wales. It is not cheap stuff (close to £100 a kilogram) but Rob had worked his magic and secured some funding for a good portion of it. It was enough for around an acre, so half of a smallish field. He came to Cefn Garthenor on Monday with two bags and we got to work, broadcasting the seed by hand.

Above: Rob Parry sowing the seed

Robert will be back this week to drive the tractor over the field again help bed the seed in. That done, we will need some good sharp frosts and it will be good to go. There is a danger that that the ground is still a bit too nutrient rich for the wild flower seed, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that at least some species, such as the yellow rattle, will take on the battle with the rye grass. I will report back in spring / early summer 2022. Very excited to see what happens!


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