EM6 – Meadow Mixture for Chalk and Limestone Soils
This rich mixture is suitable for sowing onto thin lime-rich soils of low fertility and with a significant chalk or limestone content. Sowing EM6 directly onto exposed chalk or limestone can produce some of the most interesting results; establishment will be slower than on well developed soils, but less management will be needed.
|%||Latin name||Common name|
|2||Briza media||Quaking Grass (w)|
|32||Cynosurus cristatus||Crested Dogstail|
|24||Festuca ovina||Sheep's Fescue|
|12.8||Festuca rubra||Red Fescue (w)|
|4.8||Koeleria macrantha||Crested Hair-grass (w)|
|4||Phleum bertolonii||Smaller Cat's-tail (w)|
|0.4||Trisetum flavescens||Yellow Oat-grass (w)|
|40||16||4||Order this mixture|
Endeavour to select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds. The true lime loving species in this mixture will only thrive on the thinnest soils with a high limestone or chalk content, where soil poverty can moderate competition from more vigorous species. Some experimental landscaping schemes have produced successful results using bulk imports of 'soil forming materials' with a high lime content such as rock chalk or crushed concrete.
Good preparation is essential to success so aim to control weeds and produce a good quality seed bed before sowing.
To prepare a seed bed first remove weeds using repeated cultivation or a herbicide. Then plough or dig to bury the surface vegetation, harrow or rake to produce a medium tilth, and roll, or tread, to produce a firm surface.
Seed is best sown in the autumn or spring but can be sown at other times of the year if there is sufficient warmth and moisture. The seed must be surface sown and can be applied by machine or broadcast by hand. To get an even distribution and avoid running out divide the seed into two or more parts and sow in overlapping sections. Do not incorporate or cover the seed, but firm in with a roll, or by treading, to give good soil/seed contact. (more on sowing)
First year management
Most of the sown meadow species are perennial and will be slow to germinate and grow and will not usually flower in the first growing season. There will often be a flush of annual weeds from the soil in the first growing season. This weed growth is easily controlled by topping or mowing.
Avoid cutting in the spring and early summer if the mixture is autumn sown and contains Yellow Rattle, or if the mixture has been sown with a nurse of cornfield annuals. These sown annuals should be allowed to flower, then in mid-summer cut and remove the vegetation. It is important to cut back the annuals before they die back, set seed and collapse: this cut will reveal the developing meadow mixture and give it the space it needs to develop.
Management once established
In the second and subsequent years EM6 sowings can be managed in a number of ways which, in association with soil fertility, will determine the character of the grassland.
On poor shallow soils one or two cuts at the end of the summer, or occasional light grazing, may be all that is required to maintain diversity and interest.
On deeper soils best results are usually obtained by traditional meadow management based around a main summer hay cut in combination with autumn and possibly spring mowing or grazing. Meadow grassland is not cut or grazed from spring through to late July/August to give the sown species an opportunity to flower.
After flowering in July or August take a 'hay cut': cut back with a scythe, petrol strimmer or tractor mower to c 50mm. Leave the 'hay' to dry and shed seed for 1-7 days then remove from site.
Mow or graze the re-growth through to late autumn/winter to c 50mm and again in spring if needed.
EM6 is a complete mix composed of 20% native wild flowers and 80% slow growing grasses (by weight). The flower and grass components are also available to order separately as EM6F for the flower component and EG6 for the grass component.