Plugs ‘n’ fun

Tuesday 4th November 2014

A couple of days after the final adult volunteer session, it was the turn of the children to show us how to create meadows. On October 9th, Buglife and Urban Roots took 31 local schoolchildren and 3 parents down to the new meadow site to plant some wildflower plugs.

Wildflower plugs are small plants which are already established in pots/trays that have been grown from seed. They are planted out in this state during autumn or spring, thus giving them a slight head start over other plants that are growing from seed. With their roots already developing and their leaves photosynthesising, they have a great chance of establishing quickly and growing well if the site is suitable to them. Furthermore, the plug plants are able to flower earlier than their relatives grown from seed, meaning more pollen and nectar sources will be available across the season for pollinators.

Our school session began with a short introduction to the importance of wildflower meadows, we then headed out with the children to the site. In testament to their enthusiasm and efforts, they managed to plant out 120 Red Campion plants in about 30 minutes! As there are already a couple of small, well established Red Campion patches on the site, it is hoped that the children’s fantastic efforts will contribute to the strength of these plant communities. There were numerous comments from them that they “loved doing planting”, which was coupled with much laughter and fun.

This session was the last of the practical meadow creation days that we are doing on the site this year and it was a great way to finish. As winter comes in, and the plants put their energy back down into their roots and the soil, we will monitor (and even lightly cut) the site, but largely we will leave things to the plants until early spring and see how they get on.

Our attention now turns to writing a management plan for the site; if the work that we have put in this year will bear best fruit for pollinators, invertebrate and plants alike, the site has to be cut and managed in a way that suits the plants that we have introduced.

Check back next time to find out a bit more about what our infant meadow looks like and how, ideally, a wildflower meadow might look in more dormant months.