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frost seeding

 
paul wheaton
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R Scott
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Never thought about kale!

I have had good success with clover. The hard part for me is being able to use a machine to do it. It is usually a little soft on top when it is the right time to seed, so I have to do it by walking with a whirlybird seeder.

Do not seed on snow unless there is more snow on the way, like already starting to fall. Otherwise the birds will swarm and carry off all your seeds!
 
paul wheaton
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I figure the time to broadcast the seed is ONLY when it is actively snowing.

I think february would be optimal.

 
Aaron Althouse
Posts: 22
Location: Shine, WA - Zone 8b
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I'd swap crimson clover for red clover (or add it in as well) as it seems to be a better bee forage. Good vendor. That's who I buy from.
 
Alan Clashman
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I frost seed for hay fields. Have done so for years. I try to so on one of the last 1 inch snows. The dark seeds heat up and drop thru the snow and set the selfs. Awsome way to seed. I use a crank deader for 5 acres
 
Darin Colville
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Great list. Have had great luck with at least the clovers and perennial rye. An old turf guy I worked for in high school had good luck with annual rye then followed with bluegrass for lawns and alfalfa for hay when warm enough to use a Brillion seader later.
 
Tristan Vitali
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I personally just wont grow alfalfa, of any type, for fear of GMO contamination in the seed lot or even in my own saved seed. Same applies to everything else they've screwed with - if it's out there, it could end up here and I don't want any part of it. It's great stuff if you trust it, though.

Funny because I'm "just up the road" from Johnny's but I find myself going to either Outside Pride and Hancock Seed down in Florida for my bulk grass and cover crop buys

And don't forget to add in some kick-ass taproots and medicinals like dandelion, chicory and wormseed to round out the mix!
 
Deb Pero
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Location: Northern New England
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I have some pasture i would like to improve for eventual haying. But i need "hay field for dummies" type help.... really not sure what to start with. Would your mix be good for that?
 
Darin Colville
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Didn't even notice alfalfa on the list until Tristan mentioned it. Only a seed salesman would tell you to frost seed. Alfalfa in juvenile growth stage is easily frost killed, if it even germinated at all. Needs VERY good seed/soil contact to germ. Brillion seeder, no till drill, or heavy cultipacking are some options.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I thought frost seeding involved the seed being on the ground when the soil freezes and thaws, and the seeds then working their way into the ground because of the freezing and thawing.

I don't get a lot of snow, and would assume that if I tossed the seed out when it was snowing, by the next day when the snow has melted or just sublimated in to the dry air, the seeds would be right there on the surface for the birdies.

When I do my "frost seeding" I'll be tossing the seeds out onto/into the litter on the surface, as well as the bare soil. I'll be hoping the seeds find there way down into the cracks and crevices of the mulch, litter, old plant stuff. Once in the litter layer, I'll be thinking they reached a layer of the soil with less temperature fluctuations, which - again just my expectation- will enhance germination.

I only have 2 acres, so I can afford to over seed, and I do. That's part of my "research", I put out a lot of seeds, of various genera. I see what germinates, and I see what is there in a few years. I also watch what the goats eat. Then I know what to encourage, what to discourage.

This whole question of frost seeding and associated pasture improvement, or plant diversity enhancement seems multifactorial.

I just googled "frost seeding" and found something from the Vermont extension service. They say frost seed after the snow has melted in the spring, frost seed when the soil freezes at night and thaws in the day, and they stress the importance of seed soil contact.

I wonder if methods for attaining optimal frost seeding success varies from one bioregion or soil type or climate. Seems like we could all keep track of what we do, and our rationale for what we try, and how it works.

By working together, we could compile an important guide for ourselves and others.

I would enjoy watching the development of an organized body of knowledge that explores and documents trends we observe.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I have done this the past two years but I don't plant the vetch, It tends to be hard to get rid of on our land. I am going to be planting alfalfa and the others along with 7 top turnip and rape in the new pastures starting Feb. 15th.
Last year I had great success with all of the clovers and grasses I broadcasted in February.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Darin, I did alfalfa on the soil surface with light mulch over top, very light mulch. That was late January because we had the weirdest January, it was not cold, more like Meditera=ranean January with overnight frost, day time mild (40s). I had good survival.



Bryant, what methods have you employed?

Thanks
 
Justin Rhodes
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I'm so gonna do this now. Printed out that list... Thanks!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau, Thekla, I use a broadcast spreader with a 5 gallon hopper.

I first rake the area with a garden rake to remove any stones that have come up, this usually takes me about a week to complete (pastures cover almost 2 acres now).
When I have finished the rock removal, the area sits untouched for a while. I don't dig in with the rake, the goal is to just pickup the rocks that have moved up to the surface.
By leaving the area alone for a week or two, the winds move the leaf litter back over the soil and there it simply remains. I have noticed that seeds tend to move down to the soil surface pretty well from the wind action and rains.

I come back over with the spreader and do a complete pass with each type of seed individually for the first round. (currently about 10 passes for an initial seed spread)
After two weeks I blend up similar sized seeds and go back over the whole area with a second seeding.
By doing my seeding passes in February I rarely have to water since Feb, March and April are our spring rainy season. (snows, if we get any usually come in January and February)
Once the plants are up and fairly established I load the seeder and make another pass over the whole area.
My goal is to get thick growth so the multiple seeding method makes sure I have good density and the staggered passes help to not injure fresh sprouting seedlings.

The wide variety of plant types helps the hogs to have a good variety of things to eat. Our Guinea Hogs are pasture feeders and they prefer the pasture to commercial feed, even through the winter.
I am constantly adding new seeds (of different plants) to these pastures and we rotate the hogs weekly so they are always on new growth pasture.
Eventually I will have enough pasture built up so that they aren't on previously eaten ground more often than every 10 to 12 weeks.
If these hogs have enough fresh grass and other plants to eat they don't root much at all, when they do root we have to go in and pickup rocks before we can add more seeds after moving them to fresh ground.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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thank you!
 
Stewart Lundy
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Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
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Hopefully this isn't unnecessary information. I've talked to old timers in my area who first clued me into frost seeding. And it's not just when there are frosts out!

Frost seeding will work provided that ice crystals must be sticking out of the ground AND ice crystals must thaw. So it has to be cold enough, but it also has to melt. Otherwise it's bird feed. When ice melts, water contracts and "sucks" the seeds into the ground -- but the ice must melt for a frost seeding to work. The principle of frost seeding is the same as canning vegetables. As water cools, it contracts, sealing the lids of jars. You need the same thing (from the ice melting) to pull seeds into the ground. If the ice crystals don't melt, it would be like having jars where they stayed hot: they wouldn't seal. Does that make sense?

This principle is identical to what Viktor Schauberger called "implosion": as water approaches the anomaly point (+4C) from either direction (cooling or heating to +4C), it contracts, drawing elements into itself.

Good luck. It can save a lot of time, done right.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Ah, so no point in putting the seed out while we are in the hard frozen stage. Then you're just feeding the birdies.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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right, you want to time it so you're headed to the thawing portion of the season.
In Arkansas, we haven't even gotten but two nights of frost so far this year.
Normally our coldest days and nights are in Jan. and Feb. so I wait till mid Feb. to spread seeds, that way any frost heaving is usually at the end throes.
 
benjamim fontes
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Stewart Lundy wrote:
This principle is identical to what Viktor Schauberger called "implosion": as water approaches the anomaly point (+4C) from either direction (cooling or heating to +4C), it contracts, drawing elements into itself.

We use various methods to remove the seeds dormancy: place the seeds in the freezer for one day or two before sowing. Or putting the seeds in warm water for the same purpose.
Benjamim Fontes North Portugal mediterranian area.
 
Kai Duby
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Location: Colorado~ Front Range~ Zone 4/Wheaton Labs
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Some additions to the list:
I thought it would be good to add in more diversity to the mix since most natural environments are not just grasses and legumes.
White mustard- This grew very well at the lab this past year.
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8964-mustard.aspx

Daikon Radish- Also thriving and reseeding at the lab.
http://www.groworganic.com/daikon-lb.html

Forage Turnip
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7492-purple-top-forage-turnips.aspx
 
Thekla McDaniels
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the daikon radish and forage turnips did well at my place last year, and in the fall, the goats ate the roots too!
 
Andrew Schreiber
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Hi Paul,

Here is an article I wrote about seeding into frost heaves for PermacultureNews.org

Seeding Into Frost Heaves: Leveraging a Natural Soil Disturbance Event



 
Ken W Wilson
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Korean lespadeza works great. Don't think the frost is even essential. Just beat the spring rains. Cattle will get fat on the hay. It's great for overseeding an old pasture or hay field as long as there isn't a thick sod. It can handle much less fertile soil than clover. It grows mainly in the summer when fescue's not at it's best. It works great in wheat as long as you don't use a lot of fertilizer. Harvest your wheat then a month or two later you can bale it up or turn the cows in.
 
Raven Sutherland
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was looking at Johnny's via your link
on the red clover

and it was sayin to also plant oats to "NURSE"
the clover along...

whats that about PAUL ?
 
R Scott
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Raven Sutherland wrote:was looking at Johnny's via your link
on the red clover

and it was sayin to also plant oats to "NURSE"
the clover along...

whats that about PAUL ?


That is for planting into bare ground. The oats come up fast, keep weeds from taking over, but let the clover establish and then die back.
 
Darin Colville
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Hey Thekla, that's sounds great. I sometimes forget the scale difference between me and most permie readers. My smallest pasture is 80 acres. Sometimes intent is more powerful than botany! Organic alfalfa seed is just way too pricey for me to do anything exept what i know works.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Darin,
I can see the difference in the cost of "experimentation". I have 2.6 acres total. I was going to say how much I would like to have much larger acreage, it would certainly make it easier when it comes to moving the stock in a rotational pattern of any kind, but for the watering, the seeding, the removing the undesirables, well it would be a very different undertaking!
 
R Scott
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Ah, so no point in putting the seed out while we are in the hard frozen stage. Then you're just feeding the birdies.



The point of doing it then is you can use heavy equipment without compaction worries. But yes, you need heavy snow starting to cover the seed asap or it is birdseed.

I have seeded 30 acre pastures by hand, but I greatly prefer riding a machine to do that much.
 
Darin Colville
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Hi Thekla, Everyone here is doing it one acre at a time! I just finished reading a post from Cassie about family farm socio-politic. I can sooo relate. The hard part of modern wannabe sustainable farming for me is the gleaning of info that fits MY farm. Thanks to all the sites like this I firmly believe all sustainable methods are scaleable. Happy frost seeding people! One thing I know for sure about seed - it'll never make in the sack.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Darin Colville wrote: The hard part of modern wannabe sustainable farming for me is the gleaning of info that fits MY farm.


Ain't it the truth? I just started a thread about assessment of MY goats mineral needs. That is the hard part, and I think it is inherent in this system we are all researching with every step we take. The whole point in fact seems to be about looking at the situation in front of you, assessing, and responding to those exact conditions, instead of following a rote prescription that takes all the thinking out of farming and ignores variations in the actual conditions at hand on any given plot of earth, even two different sets of conditions in the same acre of ground!
 
Gerbert Thorne
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I'd like to know about planting vegetables during the frost season, things like garlic, onions, salads, cabbages - y' know, cold resistant plants like that.

Anyone got any info on that?
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Gerbert,

I think only seeds will work, so if you have garlic seeds and onion seeds, you could sure try them. For lettuce and cabbage and kale, other leafy greens, if the seeds are there on the ground, when the conditions are right, they'll likely germinate. You don't get as high a percent germination, and will lose seeds to birds and such if they lie on the surface.

Frost seeding is more often used for pasture than vegetable gardening. Still, I, and probably others, include plants considered vegetables into pasture mixes, and gather greens for myself from the pasture too.
 
Stewart Lundy
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For anyone still thinking of frost seeding (it works, but like with bread, timing and experience are everything). I've attached an image of the right sort of thing to see from bare soil. When those crystals thaw, they contract back into the ground and pull seeds with them.

Edit: this picture is from our field this week.
20160119_101015(0).jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160119_101015(0).jpg]
Frost Seeding Ice Crystals Soil
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