Thursday, 18 May 2017

More sowing, less needle

At the end of last month, in the closing remarks of a blogpost, I mentioned that we were going to try a new approach with the 'wildlife triangle' that sits at the bottom of the front lawn. The latest plan for the fifty odd square metres of unkemptness was to sow it with annual wildflowers, rather than try to create a full-on meadow. Technically less hassle, more pollen and nectar for insects, more enjoyment for us humans.

Well, the intervening fortnight didn't bring much in the way of free time, decent weather or the necessary inclination, but the past two days have been absolutely peachy, so some progress has finally been made.

Admittedly, we haven't stuck to the plan, but that's not such a surprise, eh?

After repeated mowings on progressively lower blade settings, the wildlife triangle was looking rather shorn and bereft. There were patches of bare earth where the blades had discovered that the ground wasn't so smooth and level, whilst the remains of clumps of coarse grass looked more like pale yellow stepping stones. Within a few days, new shoots of dock were springing up right, left and centre from all the root tops which had been exposed by the whirling mower blades. Here was the change of plan. We decided that we could live with the rough grass, the thistles, the buttercups and, heck, even the nettles, but most of the docks would have to go. This weeding process would also have the happy side effect of creating yet more patches of bare, as well as disturbed, earth.

Time to get all mediaeval with those docks!

I can confirm one thing straight away. There was way more in there than I thought. I haven't been counting (because that would be a waste of dock-busting energy and time), but so far there's about ten trugs of dock root which have appeared from the ground, and there's still about forty per cent of the area to go. Meantime, Our Lass is following along behind, sowing drifts of wildflower seed in the bare patches. At the moment, we're continuing to exhaust stocks of seed harvested from Castle Cornflower (Corn cockle, Cornflower and Field poppy), but we will soon be moving on to newly-purchased goodies like borage and Phacelia.

The borage and Phacelia seed left over will then go into big blocks of sowing in a border, along with some Echium seed. That is going to be one heck of a lot of blue.


Hearteningly, there are good numbers of worms in the ground, a fact that I haven't shared with the local Blackbirds. And all manner of grubs/caterpillars/larvae of heaven knows what insects. All left well alone for the resident Starlings to find.

I know what you're thinking, "What about the Linnets? He's not mentioned the Linnets yet? What's he done with the Linnets?"

W-e-l-l... here's the funny thing, and Our Lass and I were discussing this very point earlier (ok, Our Lass was patiently listening to me ramble on for ages), the Linnets aren't an obvious factor at the moment. They are about, because we hear their calls from dawn to dusk, but they are not causing me any angst. I can only presume that, as we're planting really late compared to last year (about a month behind, I reckon), then the Linnets may already be incubating eggs. This would have the effect of halving the number around at any one time, and even when the eggs hatch, I'm guessing that the new parents will be looking for soft and squidgy invertebrates rather than dry seeds to feed their young.

We can but hope.

I have contemplated bribing the Starlings to guard the plot from the attentions of those fickle finches. There are lots of grubs in the soil, y'know, hint, hint.

Oh, and I saw a Common carder bumblebee in the garden this morning, so we need to crack on creating plenty of nectar and pollen.

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