Future wildflower area, and something’s missing

After breaking the lawn mower in the strip along the road, I finally got back to it, today.

Here is how it looked before I started, from each end.

I suppose one good thing about the drought conditions is that this area has never gotten overgrown. There were saplings starting, so I went over the area with the lopper first, cutting them as close to the ground as I could. The last time I had to do that, we didn’t have loppers, so a lot of these saplings were growing out of the ragged ends of smaller saplings before, that had been mowed over rather than cut with pruning shears. The larger ones had been cut with pruning shears, and there was enough of them that I had needed a wheelbarrow to clean up. This time, I could just pick up the larger ones by hand and didn’t even get an armful.

Here is how it looked when I was done.

The plan for this area is to convert it to native wildflowers for the pollinators. The mix we have has 16 annuals and perennials, chosen for Western Canadian climates. We intend to start at the far end (where the lawn mower can be seen in the one photo), as that end is near the garden. Over time, I intend to continually scatter more seeds down the line, with a goal of this entire strip being full of wildflowers. Once that is established, we won’t need to mow it regularly any more, and we will just need to keep on top of cutting away any saplings that try to establish themselves, and do a single mow, at the highest setting, at the end of the year.

What we can’t do is follow the instructions. This is the method we had intended to follow.

Method Three involves more planning but requires no chemicals. Till in the late summer or early fall the year before planting. You may allow the soil to lie fallow or plant a cover crop after tilling. A cover crop may be important if your site is on a slope. A green manure cover crop such as buckwheat or annual rye grass will hold the soil until spring, help add beneficial organic matter and help snuff out germinating weeds. In the spring, light cultivation will be needed to loosen the soil and turn under all existing growth just prior to planting. ‘

https://www.veseys.com/us/westernmixwildflowers.html

Well, we can’t till this area. Even if we had a working tiller. You can’t see them in the photos, but there are several large rocks peaking through the soil, and I have no doubt there are more that cannot be seen. I had hoped to at least go over the area with a harrow, but we still need to figure out a safe way to get under the riding mower, which has a tow hitch, to put the chain back on, so it will move. It hasn’t exactly been a priority.

Then there are these instructions:

Sowing: 

Once your ground is bare and loose, you are ready to sow. Following are a couple of tips that will make the whole process simple and successful. First, choose a nearly windless day and, second, separate the seed you’re planting, no matter the amount, in roughly two equal parts. Put the first half in a clean bucket or coffee can and add in roughly 10 parts of light sand or vermiculite. There are two reasons for the sand. It will dilute the seed and help you spread it more evenly. More important, since it is lighter-colored than the freshly-tilled soil, you’ll be able to see where you’ve been as you sow. You can simply hand-sow, keeping the seeding as even as possible. Or use a hand-crank seeder. The amount of seed you sow depends on the sort of flower display you want. Many people sow up to two or even three times the minimum seeding rates on seed packages to assure heavy bloom. Avoid planting higher densities since this will inhibit good growth. Sow the first half of your seed/sand mix over the entire area to be seeded. Then go back, mix the second half of your seed with sand and spread that seed over the whole area. This way, you’ll avoid bare spots. Once the seed is evenly sown, you can rake to barely cover the seed with soil. Or, simply compress the seed into the freshly-tilled ground. A lawn roller is perfect for the job, and for smaller areas, a piece of plywood laid down and walked on will do.

Okay, so we can broadcast the seed easily enough, but things like getting rid of all the roots of what’s already there, and having “bare and loose” soil first is out of the question. We’ll be lucky if we can loosen the soil at all. As for raking or tamping down to compress the seed into the soil? Ha! Nope. Not gonna happen. It’s just too large of an area. We will also not be able to do any watering here, at all. We have enough hose that we can reach the furthest corner of the furthest garden bed with the spray nozzle on the hose. I have no intention of buying yet another length of hose, to water outside the garden area.

Nope.

The instructions say to prepare the soil, then plant in the spring, after last frost. Since we can’t water the area, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and broadcast the seeds in the fall. I had expected to be doing that around now, but we are having relatively warm temperatures for the next while, and we’re also getting rain. I don’t want the seeds to germinate. I want them to go dormant before getting covered with snow. Then, when the snow melts in the spring, they will get their moisture.

This goes against all the instructions but… well, these are wildflowers. Wildflowers manage to propagate themselves without freshly turned soil, tamping down or clearing of other plant roots. I’m going to be trying to copy nature, here.

So we will do as much as we can first – which, unless we can get under the mower, is basically what I’ve done today. I’ll be using garden soil instead of sand to help broadcast the seed more evenly. Since I don’t want the seeds to germinate, I will probably wait until the end of the month, or even into October, to do it. Whatever survives, survives. If we keep broadcasting seeds, year after year, eventually the area will get filled. Hopefully with a good variety.

So that’s done as much as possible for today.

This is the first time I’ve been out this way, on foot, all year, which means today was the first time I was able to check out, and get a photo of, this.

This is the corner post of the property’s fence line.

It needs replacing, as does most of the fence, but that is not what I was taking a pictures of.

I was taking a picture of what isn’t there.

My father’s name.

Many years ago, my dad took a piece of red plastic and used gold coloured, metal, self adhesive, letters to put his initial and surname on it. The sign was mounted on this post. Back in the day, before any of these roads had names, and well before the driveway marker system was implemented, the sign was used as a landmark when giving people directions to our place.

We don’t go out often, and the sign can be easily seen only when we are on the return trip, but seeing that flash of red while turning the corner always made me feel good. It was a memory of my father.

Some time ago, however, I realized I wasn’t seeing that flash of red anymore. Today, I got to look around to see why.

There isn’t a trace of that sign. The reflector at the top got broken in half, though, and the rest of it is on the ground, but that’s all I could find.

The road that goes past our driveway has our family name, as well as a numerical name. When we first moved here, the road sign with our family name was at the top of the stop sign across the intersection. One day, the stop sign was lying broken on the ground, and the road sign with our family name on it was gone. I am 99% sure this was done by our vandal, and I’m just as sure that he is responsible for the sign on this fence post being gone. When it happened, I have no way to know.

What a childish, petty thing to do.

If we ever do get the road sign replaced (I’ll have to contact the municipal council again about that), or replace the sign on the fence, we’ll have to set up a trail cam on it, because I just know that our vandal will go after it again.

Switching out memory cards in this location would be much more inconvenient, that’s for sure!! But it would need to be done.

What a pain.

The Re-Farmer

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