EM10 – Tussock Mixture
The varied forms of the grasses in EM10 provide the main focus of interest of this mixture. The tussock forming grasses are combined with wild flowers like knapweeds and vetches which can cope with competition from taller vegetation. This mixture has been devised to create areas of tussocky grassland that, once established, require little or no maintenance. This grassland type can form a good habitat for insects, small mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, providing nesting sites during spring, food during summer and autumn, and shelter during winter.
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Endeavour to select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds. 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. (more on preparation)
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 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.
If the mixture has been sown with a nurse of cornfield annuals they should be allowed to flower before cutting back in mid-summer and removing the cut vegetation. It is important to cut back the annuals before they die back, set seed and collapse: this cut will reveal the developing tussock mixture and give it the space it needs to develop.
Management once established
Once established tussocky grassland requires minimal maintenance.
Unwanted perennial weeds (docks, thistles) may need control by occasional spot treatment with a herbicide. To control scrub and bramble development, tussocky areas may need cutting every 2-3 years between October and February. For wildlife this cutting is best done on a rotational basis so that no more than half the area is cut in any one year leaving part as an undisturbed refuge.
EM10 is a complete mix composed of 20% native wild flowers and 80% grasses (by weight). The flower and grass components are also available to order separately as EM10F for the flower component and EG10 for the grass component.