Meadow making is a way to create naturalistic swaths of beauty. An environmentally user-friendly way of protecting our Chesapeake Bay as well as other water sources that we depend on. I look at meadow making as a method of creating vignettes of self-sowing planting beds that bring joy seasonally. Meadows are gaining popularity as we are beginning to rekindle our relationship with Mother Earth.
I was presented with the opportunity as a Prince Georges County Master Gardener to assist in the second phase of creating a meadow at NASA. I must tell you – what a great opportunity it was. Connecting with Darlene Squibb and reconnecting with Sara Tangren by taking advantage of playing in the soil was not going to be missed!!
Once on the grounds of NASA, I met the other participants at the appointed place. There were colorful and informational placards sharing a little Maryland history and information on the site. The landscape fabric to sterilize the soil had already been removed, so we pitched in to roll/fold it up for storage. The gentle breeze made this a repetitive task, but we were successful. The beginning stages of making a meadow are to identify the site, analyze the site and prepare the site, including killing as much of the existing weed layer as possible for a season, give or take. One could also use chemical expulsion to hasten this step. Now that the weed blocking fabric had accomplished this task, the next phase was testing the soil and adjusting the ph for optimum plant growth. Sara Tangren knew from testing that we need to add sulfur. We also planted the next crop prior to the meadow seeds – a crop of forage radishes. Mixing sulfur, sand and radish seeds and scattering them over the surface was our next task. The entire time I am thinking ….radishes???
What about the seeds for the meadow??? Little did I know, the radishes must go first. THIS is why I love Public Gardens and Demonstration Gardens. The knowledge that can be gleaned from these useful entities is simply amazing and usually FREE.
Let me share a few radish facts with you – 1) radishes can put down some serious roots, 2) these roots aerate the soil which is great for compacted soils (like natural drills!), 3) most are not winter hardy and what is left will break down and amend the soil, finally 4) anything that is left as ground fodder in the spring can be re-incorporated into the soil easily. I did not like radishes until I did my research. I may not eat them, but I will use them for those new beds I am creating!! Three of us took a corner and creatively scattered half of the seed, sand and sulfur mix over the area. Each of us also ran out of our mix, however, Sara Tangren used this as an opportunity to show us that it is beneficial to reserve half the seed for a second sowing which provides optimal coverage. I cannot tell you how much I learned that will prove useful as I create a meadow in 2017. What an awesome opportunity to go through the steps and document, document, document. I can’t wait!!
The Master Gardener Program is an opportunity to learn how to be better Stewards of this earth we share. It is worthwhile to seek out and dig in. I have been involved in a Master Gardener Program on and off since 1984 between Virginia (Central Rappahannock Master Gardeners – where it all began) and Maryland (Prince Georges County Master Gardeners). To find out more click hereUniversity of Maryland Cooperative Extension. Thank you Cooperative Extension for being!!!
I hope to attend the seed sowing exercise in December, not just for sowing seeds of wildflowers, but to continue to sow seeds of friendship with Denise Squibb and the rest of the crew. How exciting to create meadow for all to enjoy!! Making a meadow….even a meadow of new friends…..one of the best days this summer!!!