Sowing and maintaining your wild garden
Having a wild garden doesn’t only require you to understand the purpose of your wild garden and choose the right plants. It also requires you to know how to prepare the seedbed and sow your plants. It is essential that the seedbed is clean and of good quality.
Seed mixtures are composed of many different varieties and species, and several varieties are available in different mixtures for both game birds and deer, such as red clover, white clover, blood clover, alfalfa, vetch, lupin, and others in the legume family. These varieties take up nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, which has a positive effect on the seedbed going forward. The diversity in some mixtures is also quite wide, and here it is crucial that the seedbed is in order, otherwise many species will not survive and the wild mix will not achieve the desired result!
The seedbed can be cleaned either mechanically or chemically and both methods can be very effective. Mechanical cleaning is done by harrowing the seedbed, from April until sowing time. The disadvantages of mechanical cleaning include the risk of drying out the seedbed, which can result in insufficient moisture in the soil for seeds to germinate. If you choose to use chemistry instead, the workflow is much shorter. Here, the seedbed can be plowed in early spring, harrowed once to level the soil, and sprayed with glyphosate immediately before sowing.
Whichever method you choose, we always recommend that you have a soil sample taken from the seedbed, as this will show what the soil needs for optimal results. Typically, lime and nitrogen will be in short supply, both of which are essential elements for a successful gamekeeper.
The sowing time is often predetermined by the composition of the game mix. However, as a rule of thumb, we would always recommend that you do so as late as possible. This is because many varieties require a minimum soil temperature of 10 degrees and higher temperatures have a positive effect on germination.
It is also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the seed rate. Over-sowing will increase competition for water, light and nutrients between varieties. Sowing too little will leave unnecessary space for weeds. Therefore, be careful with the amount of seed.
Finally, we recommend fertilizing before sowing with 20-30 kg NPG or 21-3-10 per 1000 sqm. Fertilization may be repeated when the plants are 10-20 cm tall to give an extra boost to growth. Remember that fertilizing should be done in dry conditions, preferably at midday, so that the plants are dry. When fertilizing early in the morning or after rain, there is a risk of damaging the plants via the nitrogen in the NPK fertilizer, which will settle on the plant itself during spreading.
A wild garden with pure legumes such as alfalfa, clover species, vetch, etc. can be fertilized with a PK fertilizer that does not contain nitrogen. This is an important tip to keep in mind as it can be crucial for the survival and growth of the plant.
In terms of weed control, you can choose either a mechanical or chemical approach. The mechanical method involves harrowing the soil, which should be done from April until sowing. If you choose the chemical method, the seedbed can be plowed in early spring, harrowed once to level the soil, and sprayed with glyphosate just before sowing. Remember that it is important that the harrowing is done at least 4 weeks before sowing, so that the seed bank that has been brought to the surface by plowing/harrowing has been allowed to germinate, otherwise the spraying will be useless.
It is important to emphasize that both mechanical and chemical methods can be effective, and the choice between them often depends more on personal preferences or political attitudes than on objective differences in effectiveness.
Creating and maintaining a gamekeeper is a process that requires time, care and knowledge. But with the right approach, it can be a rewarding experience that not only enhances the wildlife in your area, but also provides a sense of fulfillment and connection to nature. So whether you’re an experienced hunter, a hobby gardener, or just a nature lover, these tips will help you get the most out of your gamekeeper.
Remember that the best gamekeeper is the one tailored to the specific needs and conditions in your area, so don’t be afraid to experiment and adapt this advice to your specific circumstances. Have fun with your project!