Our first flood this autumn has hit just 15 days after we sowed the wildflower mix into the upstream end of the meadow. Have we lost it all in the flood or will some of it germinate and show itself in the spring? Who knows?
by Mike Hopkins
Sowing the seed.
Over the last two years we have been stripping the nutrients from the meadow by taking hay cuts. This has reduced the phosphates to a level which is suitable for our meadow seed mix of grasses and wildflowers to establish. Instead of trying to establish the meadow in one go, we are trying just under 3 acres at the upstream end of the meadow. The reason for this is that there is a risk of flooding at any time of the year and with that there is a chance that the seed will be lost in the floods, so we would rather lose 25% of the seed than 100% in one go. You could say conditions were perfect for sowing, the ground was just soft on top and the existing sward had been grazed and vigorously scarified, exposing plenty of bare soil for the seed to make good contact with. The seed was then pressed in with the smooth side of a chain harrow to increase its chance of soil contact. Once this work was done we let the horses back out onto the meadow to tread in the seed, hopefully further protecting it from potential flood water. The horses weren't too impressed with the attack on the meadow, but they did seem to eat up the loose grass that was pulled up during scarification.
We will take the horses off the meadow in late November and bring in the temporary fencing to protect it from the inevitable winter flooding. Lets hope some of this seed germinates and any that lies dormant has dug into the soil and can hold on in the next flood!