We call this our meadow. Honestly, it’s really just half an acre of ground we
didn’t want to mow any more.
The idea started when I transplanted some of my mom’s Lemon Balm in an area that had been the firewood pile. Lemon balm grows fast and this took off and created an oval that’s about 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. Then milkweed dropped by for a visit and decided to stay, creating a ring around half of the lemon balm bed. The only plants that have tried to interfere were two invasives – Mile A Minute (it grows that fast) and every surface including the back of the leaves has stickers) and Bittersweet Vine.
The rest of the half acre is “naturalized.”
Okay, it looks pretty seedy but I have been working on this for a couple of years with little or no success. The grass is MONSTER and its rhizomes are about 1/2″ thick!
I’ve planted 18 perennials out in the meadow…black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, perennial flox, and cone flowers — all supposed to be hardy, to love the sun and to return, year after year. Most of them packed up in the dead of night and moved to the neighbors.
So, now my new approach is to plant bushes.
Of course, the bushes have to produce so, I am putting 3 elderberry bushes in and 2 Goji Berry bushes. Just for fun, I picked up a Hazelnut tree at Sugar Bush Nursery and am adding it to the mix.
Luckily, we had dragged branches out to the meadow over the last 2 years, piled them up and left them. Occasionally we would look at each other, look at the pile and say, “We need to clean that up.” That didn’t happen until today.
And when I started moving the pile from one bit of the meadow to another, I found absolutely beautiful, grass-free soil and a nice place to plant my berry bushes! (I also found 6 ticks on my neck, arms and head — I’m still itching.)
I dug holes for the elderberries, making them about 30 inches deep. Too deep for this bush which is shallow-rooted. But I knew my enemy — the soil.
It grows absolutely fabulous witch grass and not much else. It would not be good for these berry bushes.
I broke up and added about 3 inches of twigs and branches – jumping on them once they were in the hole to break them even further.
Why branches? In soil this hard, twigs help with drainage and keep these new bushes from drowning. They also break down slowly, adding nutrients to the soil that will feed the elderberries over time.
I topped the branches with composted matter that included grass, straw, some well-composted manure and egg shells. On top of that, I put a 2 inch layer of soil. Now the holes are only about 8 inches deep.
The new baby bushes will be tucked in with some worm castings and some of the native dirt from the hole. They will also have ground cover and topped with grass clippings that will act as mulch and food.
Here’s hoping my new plan works and the meadow gives up a little real estate for these new baby elderberries and the Goji berries.
By the way, here’s the view of my garden and house from the meadow – what the bushes get to see when they look at home!