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Swale panic! Seed then mulch or mulch then seed?  RSS feed

 
                          
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Hi Gang,

I have 550 metres of swales dug, and hundreds of dollars worth of cowpea, lupin, millet and more. 

One small detail I didn't figure out yet - do you seed THEN mulch, or mulch THEN seed?

In geoff lawton's Establishing a Food Forest DVD, he can be seen broadcasting lupin on bare soil, but  won't the mulch prevent them from growing (as mulch is supposed to do)?

But if you mulch first, won't the seeds be up off of the soil and therefore not germinate?

 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Seed to soil contact is likely necessary for most species.  I seed, then if necessary apply thin mulch (so 50% of soil is obscured) to increase surface moisture.  Different species will push through mulch with different ability.  I have found that running a lawn roller over broadcast seed improved germination under some conditions.  I generally don't deep mulch and seed at the same time, unless my mulch is compost...
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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seed balls can take care of the soil contact that Paul mentioned.  would mean some more work, though.
 
                          
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Thanks for the replies, guys.

A lawn roller isn't going to be practical - 550m and a heavy clay berm.  So it's lots of large clods.  I'll be lucky if my seeds-of-choice actually take hold.

Seed balls would be a good idea except for the scale and timing - I'm doing a lot of Just in Time planning here   Is that still considered planning?

Putting down Lupin, Dunn peas, Cow peas, Vetch, White Clover and Lucerne.  A bit of a shotgun approach because the grass here is such a good competitor.

Seems the bigger seeds would be the ones with enough "oomph" to punch through some mulch, where my little seeds might not.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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got any big animals?  scattering seeds, then conscripting some hoofed associates to trample them in could be helpful.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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we either just sow and establish a living groundcover when dealing with bare soil, or when dealing with heavy vegetation areas, its mulch and then seed on top. usually the seed is mixed with some compost to help spread it better and provide some soil/cover.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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a light cover of straw should still allow (even enhance) germination.
 
Steven Baxter
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Check out Sepp Holzers video on you tube. He just fills a bucket with his mixed seeds and then scatters the seeds by hand all along the terrace. The part about the seeds starts at about the 8 min mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzRzJRiUylg
 
                          
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What I see from Sepp's video is him scattering:

1) on bare earth
2) multiple seeds

We're doing clover, vetch, cowpea, lucerne, lupin, millet, dunn pea - that's quite a bit.  Apparently we have more money than sense!

We're doing it on bare earth - often subsoil since we failed to instruct our operator how to make sure the topsoil stayed on top.  Though at least there's no grass on top ready to take over...  And we're mulcing lightly - about 50% as suggested above.

We're not using cows or children to pack the seeds in as swales are supposed to have an uncompacted downslope berm....

The birdseed we hurriedly and poorly scattered has germinated so maybe I'm under-confident and our better prepared and more varied seed dispersal phase will go fine!

Still half panicking

 
                            
Posts: 41
Location: Colorado
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Thin mulch over seed.  Seed under the mulch has ground contact and moisture retention is better.  If you try seeding over mulch, a little will sprout, birds will get some, and other stuff 'may' sprout, but the roots could dry out before they reach the soil below.
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Toss the seeds and lightly cover works well.

If you have a lot of subsoil you might think about mulching 1st then broadcast the seeds then light cover.
Need to get some organic matter mixed with the subsoil. Should help get the cover crop going, chop n drop then repeat.
Add some compost tea and worm casting to get things revved up.

Here's some before/after...
Not so much soil but more dusty rocky dirt. Wouldn't even wet...water would just bead up on it. Was once a junk car lot.


After much mulching with woodchips and cover crops. Just waiting on the rain to start. Feb '11 is the start of my sites 3rd year.

 
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