At first glance, broadcasting seems inefficient: Too many seeds compete for resources and seed is wasted because many will not have the resources to develop efficiently. On the other hand, nature seems to use non-mechanical ways to plant seeds, and has been planting seeds for a few hundred million years longer than homo-sapiens, and perhaps we could learn something from this.
So I am trying to think of possible advantages to broadcasting:
- Nature selects the best seeds for you; the most potent seeds will outcompete the less potent.
- Diversity of species, developmental stages, rates of growth and spacing provides more edge?
Not all plants reseed themselves the same way. Some seeds require light to germinate, so need to be on top of the soil. Some require the opposite. Some need to be deposited in a little package of fertilizer, some don't. Some plants produce a huge amount of seed and have failure rates which are not acceptable as part of human cultivation. Some want a cover of leaves on top of them through the winter.
So I think you really need to look at how the plant reproduces itself, and then mimic those conditions. In the case of something which has very poor success rates (anything which makes a ton of seed), you have to mimic the ideal condition.
Another benefit I like is the plant gets to choose when it wants to grow. An example being winter sown spring crops or plants. They choose when conditions are ruggedly germination not the farmer. Seeds should be tossed around when the previous years crop would have dropped it seed.
Eventually plants self seed and then with good management you get the best results.
Seeds should be tossed around when the previous years crop would have dropped it seed.
I've thought about this too but never tried it. This is the first time I've heard anyone say they've done it. Makes perfect sense to me. Why not seed all plants in the fall when the seeds naturally fall to the ground.
Not all plants reseed themselves the same way
This is also true. I will take this into account when I'm making my seed mixes.
Matt Baker wrote:Makes perfect sense to me. Why not seed all plants in the fall when the seeds naturally fall to the ground.
You can, but you will suffer losses from rotting, premature germination (particularly if you have a mild fall), being eaten by rodents and birds and other causes. Remember, a plant may drop thousands of seeds but only 2 or 3 seeds turn into new plants.
To me, that's not an acceptable success rate for something I am deliberately trying to get established; seeds are expensive. On the other hand, not all seeds are necessarily healthy and will make good plants. So I comprise -- I collect and keep the seeds under good conditions during the off season, plant extras when I want them to germinate and then thin out the poorly performing seedlings. (Although sometimes the slugs and such do the thinning for me.)
When the birds and false weather kill most seeds. those were the weaklings or the ones unfit for your climate. Over time the strongest will survive and reproduce that do very well on your land.
Eric Thompson wrote:Although it's true that broadcasting follows nature's way, keep in mind that nature's expectation is often to throw out a few thousand seeds to get just a few living examples the next year. Usually we want to do much better than that and "assist" nature's way by replicating conditions that produce success with much higher percentages. In my experience, that always involves getting at least a little soil on top of seeds that I want in good numbers - usually through raking, but sometimes through "alternative" methods like lawnmowing or chicken scratching.
Right. I use a large rake and tap the head on the ground - with the handle perpendicular to the ground - both pushing the seeds in and puffing up a little ground over to cover. But I have sandy loam soil and broadcast when the gound is dry a day before rain. Course, this would take a lot of time to do 70 acres!
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