Every winter The Wild Man and I sit down and plan for the upcoming farm season. After going over the essentials, we talk dreams (think wood-fired hot tubs, she sheds and cob ovens). Most of these projects never get realized, but last year one of mine bloomed, a full-on wildflower meadow!
We couldn’t have anticipated how glorious this field would be or the impact it would have on our childrens’ play. This project is not as daunting as it sounds, here are step by step instructions for creating your dream rainbow wildflower meadow (also a little bee told me that the end of this post will feature a chance to win your own meadow starter pack!):
Step 1: Defining Your Plot
How Big of an Area Should You Plant?
How big you go depends on several factors including your budget, maintenance, space, level of experience and personal desire. We ended up choosing a 50′ x 25′ area. You do NOT have to do a huge area to make this worth while, even a space as small as 4′ x 8′ is going to be beautiful.
How Much Did it Cost Us?
For our 50′ x 25′ plot, we spent less than $200.00. This included cost of seed, straw, compost and tiller rental.
Where Should You Plant?
Don’t rush this step! Take some time to plan and observe together. Below are a few considerations for choosing your wildflower meadow’s location:
Soil Type/Sun. You can choose a soil mixture that grows well in wet soil, but most types will require a well-drained loam. Generally speaking, compost can help improve any soil. Also, most seeds prefer at least six hours of sunlight, although there are shade-tolerant mixes available.
Access and Visibility. What’s the sense in seeding a wild flower meadow if you’re never going to see it! We planted in a place we could easily visit every day. It is also close to the garden, near the kids’ play area (this turned out to be key) and visible from our front door.
Step 2: Choosing Your Seeds
We purchased our seeds from American Meadows. I don’t have an affiliation with them, I just loved their offerings, commitment to native non-GMO seeds and extensive knowledge base. We chose the Midwest Wildflower Seed Mix, and might over seed with the Midwest Pollinator Seed Mix. We narrowed down the mix choices by considering our soil type, geographic location and sun exposure.
Step 3: Prepping & Planting and Care
Although you can prepare the bed and plant at any time in the growing season, Spring and Fall are generally the most forgiving times. We planted in Spring after our last frost date.
Preparing the ground. Everyone’s prep is going to be different. In our case, the plot was overgrown and too wet to mow. So we waited for a dry spell before brush hogging, tilling, leveling the soil and added a very thin layer of compost (although not necessary, it will give the plants a little boost).
Spreading the Seed. Once the ground was ready, we spread the seed by hand and covered them up with a thin layer of straw to provide protection for the seedlings.
Maintenance. During the first growing season, you may want to water your meadow if looks/feels dry. At the end of the season, mow the field down completely – this will help spread the seed and prevent woody species from taking over.
Step 4: Play!
Now is the time to enjoy your wildflower masterpiece. I didn’t create invitations to play with the flowers from the meadow, their beauty invited us. Just making time to visit your garden is all you need to do, the rest will follow. My daughters incorporated the flowers into everything from mud pies and potions to body art and paintings. We were conscious not over harvest and experienced so much by observing the succession of bloom, pollinators and diverse species the flowers attracted.
Now that we have experienced all the benefits and joys of a wildflower meadow, we can never go back. I would LOVE to see you incorporate this into your play space and family life. To help someone get started, I’m giving away 1 pound of any American Meadow seed that the winner chooses. To enter, simply click the button below and enter your information. I will announce the winner on Monday, March 20th the first day of Spring. Good luck!
Your Woman Gone Wild,
PIN FOR LATER!