Why sow cornfield annuals
Sowing cornfield annuals can be a great alternative to perennial wildflowers, if your chosen site has fertile soil.
They give you instant colour (first year of sowing), they perform well on most soil types including fertile soils, unlike perennials, which perform poorly.
They are relatively easy to establish and can be mixed with perennials to give first year colour, or can be sown on their own. A cornfield annuals seed mixture comprises of:
- Common poppy – Papaver rhoeas
- Cornflowers – Centaurea cyanus
- Corn-cockle – Agrostemma githago
- Corn marigold – Glebionis segetum
- Corn chamomile – Anthemis austriaca
They can be sown in the Spring or Autumn, often with spectacular results. Autumn sown mixtures favour, poppies, cornflower and corn-cockle and appear a little earlier. Spring sown mixtures favour corn marigold, and corn chamomile and have a prolonged flowering period.
Ground preparation for cornfield annuals
When sowing cornfield annuals it is important that the ground is free from weeds and the soil has been worked to a suitable tilth.
The first stage is to dig or cultivate the site and remove all of the vegetation. Alternatively a total herbicide containing glyphosate can be used to control the vegetation and weeds prior to any work being carried out.
Once the vegetation has died, you are then free go ahead with the digging / cultivation, removing the dead material as you go.
This cultivation should be carried out while the soil is relatively dry, to allow the soil to crumble. Aim to cultivate to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
The soil should then be raked to create a suitable tilth, again removing any weeds or vegetation as you go. Once you are happy, you are ready to sow the seed mixture.
Cornfield annuals only mixtures
If your goal is to have a cornfield annuals only mixture year after year, then the ground will just require cultivating once a year. This should follow cutting down and the removal of the wildflowers, at the end of the growing season, once the seed has dropped.
Once the dead vegetation has been removed, you are free to go ahead and prepare the ground for seeding again. This should be undertaken either in autumn or spring, when the ground is relatively dry.
The seed is simply sown evenly on the seedbed, raked in and firmed with a roller or by walking on it, to help the seed stick to the soil.
The seed should not be sown too deep, otherwise it may not germinate. This can be repeated yearly, however after several years the seed bank in the soil should have built up.
Once this happens all that’s required is you just need to cut and remove the wildflowers at the end of the flowering season. Finally cultivate the soil and there will be sufficient seed in the soil to regenerate each year.