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Gayton-based gardener Jamie Marsh discusses starting a wildflower meadow

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, gardener Jamie Marsh talks about wildflower meadows...

For a while now I’ve loved wildflower meadows, so this time last year I decided to make one.

We’ve got a lawned area in the front garden and I thought that the bottom of that would be perfect.

Jamie's wildflower seeds and plants
Jamie's wildflower seeds and plants

Before I carry on with the story, I’ll tell you a few things to think about if you want to sow a wild flower meadow:

- The majority of wild flowers don’t like or need a nutrient rich soil.

- Some wild flowers seeds need a period of cold stratification.

Jamie's allotment
Jamie's allotment

- Wildflowers don’t like competition from grass and weeds.

Back to last year, I knew I had to remove or kill the grass or it would compete with the flowers,

I didn’t want to use any chemical herbicides (weed killer) so to try and remove the grass I mowed it lower and lower until the blade was almost touching the ground, after mowing as low as possible, I raked the area one way then another, then the opposite way so what grass was actually still there was standing up so I could run the low cutting mower back over again, to get as much out as possible.

At this point I had pretty much bare soil, and just about ready to sow the wildflower seed I had bought.

I was doing this at a similar time of year, late November.

Lots of you might be thinking, well I sow my seeds in the spring when it’s starting to warm up, which for a large majority of seed, that is what you would do, but with lots of native wildflowers the seed needs a period of cold stratification, this is where the seed has to be subjected to the cold or even frost for several weeks to encourage germination, then In the spring, the temperatures rises thawing the ground and breaking the seed out of its dormancy period.

Now the grass has been reduced to practically bare soil, I gave my bag of seed a good shake-up in case it had settled and to make sure it’s mixed well, then cast it over my prepared area, trying to keep it has even as possible so I don’t get too many clumps.

After all the seed was sown, I gave the soil a light raking just to make sure the seed had good contact.

Then I waited and waited, but the grass and the weeds grew, but not the flowers because as I said in one of my pointers at the beginning of the column, wildflower seeds don’t like to compete with grass and weeds. So nothing came of it last year but I am determined to have a wildflower bed, so this year I’ve done it slightly differently.

instead of just leaving the grass and weeds. I’m trying it with the no-dig method.

If you read any of my earlier columns, you might know what I mean when I say no dig, basically no dig is leaving the soil which is already in place alone, and laying a layer of cardboard straight on the grass which in turn blocks the light from the grass and kills it off.

I needed to cover the cardboard with a poor-quality topsoil which luckily enough I had in two of my old allotment beds, so I was killing two birds with one stone, emptying the beds and covering the cardboard for my new no-dig wildflower bed.

After I had moved 20 or so wheelbarrows full of soil, the process was the same? Sow the seed and rake over lightly.

We will have to see how it goes this time but I’m so much more confident. I will let you know If I get a beautiful wildflower meadow.

If you have any questions about anything gardening, please e-mail me at Jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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