Without a living carpet of green, the good compost we spread across our land would quickly wash away down the slope in the late summer monsoon rains. In the spring, while we waited for the comprehensive design to further build our garden, we decided to grow a meadow of annual plants whose roots would hold our soil/compost in place, further enrich our soil with nutrients, help to break up the hard-pan layer of earth, as well as add beauty. We chose a seed mix from Curtis and Curtis Seed company that included barley, monida oats, winter Peas, hairy vetch, and red and white Clovers plus a southwest wildflower mix. With this selection of seeds, we were planning for a cover crop with leguminous plants to help fix nitrogen in our soil.
Our soil restoration plan has its roots in ideas adapted from Wes Jackson and the Land Institute.
To broadcast the seed, The 8th grade science students fanned out, an arms width away from each other across the prepared earth. With a small bucket of seeds, the students were asked to broadcast the seed in an arc. Then each student would step forward in unison across the land broadcasting and stepping until they reached the end of the prepared earth.
The students then raked the seed into the soil, not too deep, not too shallow.
With the seed evenly distributed, the land needed to be watered twice each day until germination. If the soil dried out, the seed would not germinate. Spring in New Mexico can be very hot, very dry and VERY windy.
Within the week, our first small green sprouts poked through the soil. Soon we could see the entire field flush with inch tall barley and squat round lobed oats. Anticipation of mid-summer wildflowers buzzing with bees brought smiles to our faces.