DIY wild flower seed
Nothing is guaranteed when wildflower seed are DIY collected and sown on grassland. This makes me all the more chuffed that I can report a very healthy population of yellow rattle plants now growing in the wildflower garden in the grounds of Scoil Bhríde Killeshandra.
Unsure as we were , of how well the seed would take, we only prepared and sowed a small area (10mx10m approx). If we manage the grassland correctly now this plant should spread.
The seed had been gathered, still within the seed head ,in September and October in dry weather. The field I collected from , near Cavan town , had been grazed by horses in the spring which may explain why the flowering of the yellow rattle was probably late. The seed was still there to be collected in September.
To remove the seed from the all seed heads I had gathered, I simply shook them about, it a large closed plastic box. This seemed to do the job fairly well.
Winter work at Scoil Bhride, Killeshandra national school
The seed is relatively large as flower seed goes. It is known that yellow rattle seeds need a time of cold before it can germinate. This means that the seed is sown in the autumn or early winter. The sward needs to be short and open so that seed reaches the soil surface. The pupils of Scoil Bhride, worked with rakes and mattocks , hoes and spades to open up the sward, before scattering the seed.
Even in the early stages after germination the yellow rattle parasitizes the neighbouring grass plants. It was noticeable how plants in a large bare patch of soil without grass did less well than those established in grass.
This parasitism by the yellow rattle is thought to reduce the vigour of the grasses and help increase the diversity of the sward. Since yellow rattle is an annual . It is essential that the conditions are right for germination next spring.