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Grass! Wind! Birds! (establishing grasses/reclamation) Arid climate?

 
Posts: 44
Location: Northern New Mexico/Heart of Espanola Valley
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Does anyone have any strategies for the broadcasting of grass/cover crops in areas with high winds.... and lots of birds

I purchased "binder" from Plants of the Southwest, which once wet, is supposed to help hold the seed (and of course compost, top soil, or straw) to adhere to slope and resist the wind.

Any other ideas? I am planning on erecting some kind of rube goldberg-esque perimeter to keep my chickens away (they free range during the day) and I am going to set up some monofilament w/cds, (and am, although I feel kind of dumb maybe buy one of those plastic owls?) but I would love any additional advice from anyone who has successfully gotten some "stuff" to take on a barren, not so cooperative slope-y, centuries overgrazed area- especially if they are in the southwest or arid climate.

My plan was to prep the area, disperse my seed, cover with light mixture of topsoil/straw. I'm in new mexico, and it is not THAT windy yet, (but it is starting to get so, and in a few weeks forget about it) I just invested in some pricey seeds/cover crops and if anyone else has some magic kind idea to help me not feel like it is all for naught- I'd appreciate it.

I noticed some growth from last year, but even without my birds-I think a lot of it did not bind to the ground, and just blew away- ($$$ huge loss ) I am concerned about covering it too much, as that could hinder germination. Any advice greatly appreciated!

 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Do you have any shrubby trees that you can cut branches from?  I've had success putting a light layer of brush over seeded areas.  

Also, be sure you press the seed into the soil somehow, with a roller or by walking on it, don't just toss it onto the surface.

 
gardener
Posts: 6644
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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There are a couple of strategies that work with your conditions. Both will mean doing smallish areas per seeding adventure.

First Method: Take your garden rake to the area to scruff up the top half inch or so of soil then give the area a light sprinkling of water (if possible) next broadcast the seed, then use the back of the rake to cover the seeds lightly. This is when you either must apply water or wait for rain.
This method works best (where you have lots of birds) when done in 100 sq. foot sections (10 x 10) since you can get it all done fairly fast.

Second Method: Here you need a spreader, either whirly or drop type will work. Get Good Quality, Dry compost and crumble it to nearly dust sized particles, mix in grass seed, put this mix in the spreader and apply. Put in second load of just prepared compost and apply. Now water to set seeds in place.

Hint about birds: I have found that if I do the seed spreading at night (I have a good, high lux headlamp) and use either of the above methods, the birds don't seem to locate the seeds as quickly as if I spread seed in the day time.

Hint number two, if this is going to be a pasture area, adding a larger, sacrificial seed will focus bird attention on the larger seeds instead of the grass seed, also the larger seeds will stay more on top of the soil in the first Method.

Redhawk
 
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I'd recommend seeding the grasses during cool weather, just before several days of rain are expected. Might as well get them germinated as soon after planting as possible. I prefer fall planting grasses over spring planting cause the plants can get a better root system before hot weather arrives. Very early spring is almost as good as fall.  With other cover crop seeds, try to match planting dates to their preferred germination conditions. Again just before several days of rain are expected may reduce predation.

 
Jen Gira
Posts: 44
Location: Northern New Mexico/Heart of Espanola Valley
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Thanks to all who responded regarding my seeding 'adventure' ( I like that terminology btw!!)


I was outside doing work on my drips and pipe irrigation and pulling weeds and I feel like I'm going to d-i-e, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone to responded. After a meal, and some sleep, I will respond with specific questions to each poster who was kind enough to offer advice. I am going to try all your ideas. I have nearly 3 acres to experiment on, so I'll give everything a go, and I can also share pictures from 1 year of reclamation/revegetation efforts on almost completely barren land. (Tyler, Joseph- remember my post last year that was called "Water to see what grows??/strange advice") (regarding being told by Plants of the Southwest to irrigate, and "see what came up") I have come a long way, especially in the sloped areas. Until I upload the shots I took today, enjoy a shot of my German Shepherd herding chickens w/ her "pacifier" (a toy, yes I trained her to do that and not attack them-operant conditioning works!) (and some grass! that with the magic of chicken poop and some water) has appeared in the brown dirt. -I just need more. a lot more.
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Posts: 16
Location: Northen New Mexico, 7500', zone 6b
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'd recommend seeding the grasses during cool weather, just before several days of rain are expected. Might as well get them germinated as soon after planting as possible. I prefer fall planting grasses over spring planting cause the plants can get a better root system before hot weather arrives. Very early spring is almost as good as fall.  With other cover crop seeds, try to match planting dates to their preferred germination conditions. Again just before several days of rain are expected may reduce predation.





I would try in fall, since here we have wonky weather - DRY hot windy spring and cool rainy july/aug.  We have had success even on a slope broadcasting seed, then using a compost roller to put a layer of compost on top and pack it down/ contact the soil, and then watering.   We use a spreader like this one: Compost Spreader

Sandy
 
pollinator
Posts: 2284
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I'm in Wyoming, 60+ mph winds are normal. I broadcast seed. I wait, I watch, when the rain comes, I go throw seed out. If it was a large area we use the grader/scraper to scrape it in, if it's a small area I rake. Works well enough.
 
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