A little experiment in a wasted area of garden

Discussion in 'Herbs and Wildflowers' started by Wdyl, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. Wdyl

    Wdyl Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi all,

    I'll save you the long story .. but we have finally had some dangerous areas of the garden fenced off by our landlord because of having young kids.

    It was completely overrun with bindweed, nettles, brambles etc and the makeup of the ground is rubble, rubbish, broken glass and soil of course. I don't want to keep looking at it so I'm trying to create a prettier wild area. I feel like I've done a lot of clearing work when I've had time around looking after the kids but I'm sure my effort is actually pitiful.

    I haven't fully cleared weeds and roots but I have done a lot. I'm hoping to sow this seed ( picture below), any advice? Is there anything here it would be inconsiderate (or stupid) (thinking of neighbours, landlords etc). I kind of feel like it's all going to be competing with the bindweed and brambles anyway no matter what I do!

    I have now chopped back the tree a lot and it looks like such a big area to waste, but hoping if I can make it nice-ish to look at it won't be too much of a loss.

    I really am almost a zero budget gardener as it's a rental and I had the seed already.

    Would love to hear about similar projects/advice etc.

    Don't think the pictures are in the right order sorry. Hopefully it's obvious before/after

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      Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
    • Clare G

      Clare G Super Gardener

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      I can't see the seed, but this link might be useful: How to grow a wild patch | The Wildlife Trusts

      And this one - they give away free seed kits, too! Grow Wild |

      It's not something I've tried myself but as the first link says autumn should actually be a good time to sow the wildflower seed, giving it time to settle in over the winter.

      Don't fertilize the ground, poor soil is actually better for wildflowers.

      Probably tough plants like those nettles and the brambles will come back - the latter in particular are hard to dig right out. Both are actually useful food sources for wildlife, though.

      We've got some members on here with more experience than me of wild gardening who will hopefully chip in with more advice :spinning:
       
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      • Wdyl

        Wdyl Apprentice Gardener

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        Hi all,

        Hoping for some further advice. I sowed 30g of seed and after weeks and weeks basically nothing has come up. I also bought a 500g box of wildflower seed but it was mostly sand and vermiculite (only 8g of seed) I felt a bit robbed!

        Anyway, all of this and still nothing. The grasses don't appear to be coming up, what I can see looks like weeds and previous grasses sprouting. Could
        it be laying dormant until next year?
        Or could the birds/wind have got literally all of it? Maybe the 30g pack was too old? Racking my brains!!

        The neighbours had a fire right near this area and new grass is coming up, I don't know if they sowed it or if my seed blew over.

        Any advice welcome, thanks!
         
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        • ricky101

          ricky101 Total Gardener

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          Had also sown some wildflowers about 6 weeks ago, but they probably took 4 weeks to come up then in the warmer weather.

          I would think being so late in the year it will be next spring before most come up, as detailed in the link @Clare G showed.
          • Sow in autumn, giving the seed time to settle in over winter. If you are on heavy clay, however, it is better to wait until spring. Even large areas can be sown by hand quite easily.
          • Ensure that the seed is scattered evenly by sowing half lengthways and the remaining half widthways across the plot. Mixing the seed with silver sand makes the process easier. Rake in lightly and water thoroughly.
          Though wildflower sowing is generally meant to be broadcast /scattered, would suggest you do the same as we did, making a distinct drill / line, curve or circle etc and sowing into that narrow area and then marking it with some stones / indicators etc so when things do start to come up you know which are the ones you want to keep.

          Any neglected land like yours when dug over, it will brings all the weed seeds to the top, so they will be the first to emerge, thus making it hard to know which are the wild flower, unless they are in a marked area.

          Rather than expensive wild flower mixes, another way is to buy packets of cheap single varieties, like Cornflowers, Poppies etc and start them off in pots early in the year so you can later plant them out as growing plants where you want them.
          Just check the variety as some do not like being transpanted/disturbed so planting 3 - 4 seeds into a larger pot, and letting the best one grow on avoids that problem.
           
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          • Sandy Ground

            Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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            Albeit on a larger scale, wild flower areas are very common here, especially in one area about a four hour drive north of me. In turn, that means there is a fair bit of common knowledge regarding them. One advantage is that they can be relatively low maintenance. So much so that many local councils are establishing these areas not only to save money, but also encourage wild life such as butterflies, bees, and so on.. Some tips therefore...

            As was stated, wild flowers prefer poor ground. If the areas have been fertilised, mulched, or have had any kind of organic material added, either remove the top soil, or plant something like potatoes for a year or two. Always being careful to remove the debris afterwards. Remove by digging put weeds such as nettles, etc. Wait two or three weeks, then repeat.

            Wild flower choice will depend upon the ground type. As only about 3 to 3,5 grams of seeds are used per square metre, mix them with some sand, or in some cases, grass seed. Make sure they are in contact with the ground, and keep them damp. The best time to sow here would be August/September, even October in some areas. That way, the annuals will show next season. Make sure at the same time, organic material has been removed.

            Come the Spring, remove things like twigs, leaves etc. again. Then leave it, unless weeds appear yet again, in which case, carefully dig them out. Things will not be as expected this first year, as this kind of areas takes time to develop.

            When Autumn comes, cut everything down with a scythe, shears, whatever suits the area, but not a strimmer! Simply, cut it as if it was going to be used for hay or animal feed. Leave it a few days to dry, turn it, leave to dry again, then remove it carefully. The drying is to allow seeds to remain in place. In a few years time, you could have something looking like a smaller version of this...

            blomsteräng.jpg
             
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