Sacrificial Crops

Phacelia growing amongst Quinoa

These are crops which are sown and left to go to seed. The seed is not harvested, but is left in the field for birds and other small mammals to eat. The over wintering crop also provides cover from the winter weather. The first crops were sown in small blocks and included Sunflower, Kale, Quinoa, Phacelia and Millet. The Sunflower attracted large flocks of finches such as Siskin and Greenfinch and the Quinoa provided seed for Gold finch and Chaffinch as well as cover for over wintering Chats and Pipits.

The early flowering plants provide an extremely important early source of nectar for bee's and butterflies.

Bees collecting nectar

Spring 2008 saw a further two plots added comprising of mixed seed producing crops such as sunflower, buckwheat and millet. Phacelia is also added to attract bees and butterflies. One long strip of kale and quinoa was sown to provide cover to the feeding birds, although this has suffered from both rabbit and pigeon damage.

The plots are cut at the end of March. The seed is sown in late April into a stale seedbed which is turned and harrowed. In 2007 we used a purpose blended mix called Setter and WM1 but this year we blended our own. A good mix of seed producing crop can cost less than eighty pounds, and produce enough seed to hold birds all winter long. Seed mixture and sowing rates are found on the supplier's websites.

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