It’s the time of year when some of our Fair to Nature farmers are sowing their wildflower mixes. The best sowing time is mid August to mid September but this clashes with the busy harvest of cereal crops so there may not be enough hours in the day to fit it all in! The wildflower mixes contain plants that provide a much needed nectar source for pollinating insects such as bumblebees, honeybees and hoverflies. The Fair to Nature protocol, that all our farmers follow, requires two types of pollen and nectar habitats – wildflower meadow species, such as oxeye daisy, and legume species, such as clover. The wildflower meadow species are generally perennial and the flowers are long lasting. The flowers come into their own later in the year and, with careful management, the meadow can last a lifetime. The legume species are perfect for providing an early nectar source as they start flowering in early spring, but these mixes tend to run out of steam after 4 or 5 years and will need to be resown.
Fair to Nature farmers are also sowing their wild bird food crops. These special mixes of seed bearing species like fodder radish and white millet will provide food for wild birds over the winter months and into the early spring when food can be scarce.
We’ll be taking a closer look at some of the different plant species that our farmers grow in these special wildlife areas in our series ‘What’s in my patch?’ over the coming weeks.