Hi there, I'm selling a seed blend I designed based alot on Sepp Holzer's teachings, and my experiences with similar, though less diverse mixes, here on my farm in SW Montana. I developed this seed mix because our farm is located on a high, dry, cold piece of land north of Bozeman that has been overgrazed for decades. The only plants ekeing out a pitiful existence were, and still are on most of our land, crested wheatgrass, smooth brome, sagebrush and rubber rabbitbrush. Non-natives, mostly, and the rest have emerged as dominate only because there weren't any native prairie plants left to keep them in check. The soil is mostly clay, zero organic matter, zero nitrogen, compacted, crusted, erosive. Ugh. The first thing I did when we got here five years ago was start planting different pasture species, and cover cropping with red clover. Astoundingly, the clovers particularly took to this soil. The voice in my head said: "This is what the soil here wants..." and I went with it. Well, a number of catalystic factors in my life convened around this piece of land, and having studied and enacted traditional organic farming techniques here on our farm since 2008, and having some training in Permaculture from some of the best teachers, and seeing Sepp Holzer's farm in video, and then having the great fortune to read his book, as well as having a background in the landscaping trade led me to the creation of this seed mix. It contains 17 species of plants, specific varieties bred for cold hardiness and drought tolerance: "Synergy West Perennial Pasture Seed Blend" is a unique seed blend we designed here at Cloud Nine Farm for the cold, arid Mountain West and perennial biodiversity-building agricultural applications. Useful for multi-year green manure rotations, nitrogen fixation, pollinator habitat, soil-building, a premium grazing forage for birds/poultry, goats, sheep, cows. People-compatible herbal and traditional native edible species. "Synergy West" contains a blend of: Orchardgrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Indian Ricegrass, Western and Snake River Wheatgrasses, Red and Ladino Clovers, Sainfoin, Small Burnett, Annual Sunflower, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Blue Flax, Chicory, Yellow Prairie Coneflower, Purple Prairie Clover, Purple Coneflower, Western Yarrow.
The purpose of this blend is to create a deep, resilient root mass, a hearty, biodiverse and nutritious forage free from GMO contamination concerns (GMO alfalfa is being planted widely around the West this year), above-ground biomass and insane pollinator habitat, self-seeding capacity, winter forage for domestic and wild animals and birds, and re-introduction of nitrogen into depleted soils. As a bonus, many of the species can be foraged upon by people, for food or medicine. Plus, it is beautiful to the eye. The grasses are cool season grasses, meaning they grow when the weather is cool, and thus are suited to cold climates and high elevations. This mix is an alternative to the pasture mixes and green manure crops you might see in the big alternative ag supply catalogs.
This winter for the first time, wild songbirds overwintered on our farm, subsisting on seeds they found in ungrazed, unmowed stands of this mix. I think that nature likes these plants together.
How best to establish this perennial pasture blend? Prepare the soil by roughing the surface...we've used a disc pulled behind a tractor, and are now using pigs, electric fencing, and mobile housing. Broadcast the seed, 1# per 50' x 50', or 15# per acre. Cover the seed, again, lightly with the disc, a harrow, or the rooting tendencies of pigs...if you can incorporate straw bedding/manure as a light mulch over these seeds, or with these seeds, it will help you get better germination rates right out of the gate. The best results with getting this mix established will be had if you can irrigate, but we're trying to get it established in areas we also DON'T irrigate. If you plan to try non-irrigation, plan to incorporate some type of surface mulch for the best results. We mow no shorter than 4" the first year, once or twice, depending on growth rates and rainfall...this knocks back annual weed pressure, allowing the desired species to dominate, as well as providing a layer of detritus mulch for the planting, so that even more of the seeds will find ideal germination conditions. Since some of the species are wild, they will take longer, with more fluctuations in temperature, to sprout. In the second year, the plants will reach their mature size. Begin to graze...and do that like nature does...for short intense durations. Allow stands to recover before grazing again, for short intense durations. Plan to allow stands of this pasture to mature to seedheads, for winter forage, bird habitat, and self-seeding, to keep the mix diverse. We're using this mix in conjunction with pastured mobile poultry flocks, pasture mobile pigs, and soon larger livestock like goats and cows. I planted it in a series of earthworks we built on the farm last spring. This summer, it will grow as the understory in food forest plantings we put into the earthworks, in it's second year. I'll post photos later in the summer.
This mix should be planted at the rates I mentioned above, and costs $10 per pound. Contact me, and we'll ship some to you, 1# minimum, shipping and handling costs depend on quantity ordered.
I look forward to sharing this, and the continuing evolution of this project, our farm, and other permaculture projects like ours!
Rock on Permies!
Cloud Nine Farm