After a busy morning making our Easter trees, we spent the afternoon working in the garden on our wildflower meadow. After preparing all the ground last week, today we were sowing the seeds!
Jenson showed great enthusiasm. We had nipped to the Bath Road shops after lunch and he had found a little wooden snake in one of the charity shops. It quickly became his best friend and was very eager to help plant the seeds!
I got out everything we would need and we all sat down as I read out the instructions. We needed to mix the seeds very well as some were very small and dense and would separate from the larger and less dense seeds. The children did this as I hovered close by, anxious not to waste a single seed given how much this humble and relatively small looking packet had cost!
Next we had to divide the ground up into at least four equal parts. Given our area is pretty much square, four quarters was perfect and also a brilliant opportunity to get Jenson thinking about fractions. Before marking out the ground, I asked Jenson to make a small plan of it from LEGO. This got him very excited! I had already chosen the parts he would need, he just needed to work out how to divide the, (almost) square base plate into half and then quarters. He surprised me with how easily he was able to complete this task, particularly the simple division of halving. He got a little bit more confused over halving that into quarters but as you can see from the photo below, he was almost there. It helped when he counted out the number of LEGO dots as he was then able to use the number to work out where the middle was.
We took his plan over the area and he used it to help lay out the canes that would divide the ground up into four. It was a brilliant exercise for him.
We came and sat back around the table and talked about the seeds we would be planting and what kinds of insects they might attract. I read out the names of some of the wildflowers included in the pack. I don't expect the children to remember them, (I certainly can't!) but I figure it all goes in on some level.
More maths in the form of dividing the seed mixture up in much the same way as we did before. I figured the best way to do this would be by weight. Jenson fetched the scales and four bowls. He set the scales to 0 and I poured the seed mixture into the weighing bowl. The total weight was 200 grams. I told Jenson this and explained that we were trying to split the mix into four equal parts, this time into four lots of 50 grams. I showed him how the measure on the scales worked.
As I removed the seed mixture bit by bit, it was up to him to tell me when the weight was at 150 grams, 100 grams and 50 grams. He understood what was being asked of him and was very accurate. We ended up with four bowls of evenally distributed seed mixture.
The instructions that came with the wildflower seeds suggested adding sand, sawdust or oats to bulk up the seed so that it is easier to spread and to see where it has been spread.
Next came the exciting task of sowing! The instructions suggest using the first lot of seed on the first area to get used to sowing at the correct sowing rate with your hand. It tells you to use a wide swinging action, up and down in a regular pattern, using half the seed for each area sowing in one direction and then use the other half sowing at right angles. It helps to avoid leaving any empty patches. Well, safe to say this didn't happen! Instead of calm, gentle and even sprinkling we got great dollops of seeds dumped in piles! We used a rake to try and spread the seeds out as best we could but I'll be interested to see what our meadow looks like if and when it ever starts to grow! Distribution was so poor that I had to fill in the gaps with another wildflower seed mix I was saving for a different area of the garden. It really doesn't matter I guess, at the end of the day we all had fun and the children got involved.
After sowing came raking, to help settle the seeds into the soil.
And then came stamping and this was an activity that Jenson was very good at! This would help to press the seeds into the soil surface so that they make better contact with the soil and therefore absorb water from the soil more effectively.
Finally, watering. We left the sprinkler on the area for a good twenty minutes. Fingers crossed we start seeing some little shoots pushing up soon!