“I mowed the area down as low as I could in late spring 2017,” he wrote, “spread a thin layer of compost over the whole area, broadcast a variety of both perennial and annual seed mixes over it, and lightly raked everything. I mowed it a couple more times that year (higher cut) to try to knock the competition back while things germinated, and then left it be.”
“I just had sparse grasses and wildflowers to start (nothing woody) before doing any of this, so the competition wasn’t too strong early on. It was reasonably successful the following year.” (Image above.)
Travis wasn’t entirely thrilled with wildflower establishment, though, so he repeated the process in late spring 2019 including “another very light top-dressing of compost since the leach field soil is mostly just sandy fill.” The results that year were even more inspiring as you can see in the photo above.
And here’s the meadow at four years old, in 2021. Travis wrote that after the establishment phase, he hasn’t done anything to keep the meadow on track (although I suspect he’ll have to mow now and then to keep woody plants out).
I’m so impressed by his success, which turns his septic field into habitat for pollinators and lots of other wildlife. Have you turned a blah septic field into an integral part of your homestead? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Would you like to start 2023 with a little (or a lot) of homesteading inspiration? If so, I highly recommend this limited-time bundle of $285 worth of ebooks and videos, marked down to $35 for a couple more days. The massive compilation includes a Joel Salatin video, books I’ve read and recommended on the blog previously (including Understanding Roots and Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist), and my own Weekend Homesteader: Winter.
On an unrelated note, Mark and I are slowly figuring out how to live with a septic system instead of a composting toilet. Our health department comes out to inspect new systems every five years, and we got a B on our first report card. Apparently we need to tweak our flow levelers for more even distribution, to clean the filter under the outlet riser every six months, and to keep woody plants out of the leach field.
We’d mowed the septic field when we first got here, but we’re not lawn aficionados and I wanted to develop better pollinator and firefly habitat so I started letting things grow up. In lieu of mowing, we’re instead hitting the autumn olives, blackberries, and rose bushes with the chainsaw, figuring the same treatment annually might do the trick. It was either that or succumb to the always-present urge for goats…