Frahns Farm Seed Orchard Update: January 2023

Bio·R Ecologist Brad Bianco shares an update on the progress of the Frahns Farm Seed Orchard, including 25 raised seed production beds.

Spring of 2022 saw exceptional rainfall at Monarto, spurring on the plants in the Frahns Farm Seed Orchard to put on a good deal of growth and flower prolifically. All of those flowers that bloomed in the warm, wet spring conditions eventually produced seeds that have ripened over what has turned out to be a rather mild summer. In June of last year, many gaps were filled in the Seed Orchard and a further 6,000 seedlings were planted, almost bringing the Seed Orchard to maximum capacity.

Frahns Farm Seed Orchard Bio·R January 2023
The Frahns Farm Seed Orchard, almost at capacity.

With good rains and a second year of growth on the plants established in 2021, seed yields have been substantial this harvest season. Not only has there been an increase in seed quantity from this season’s harvest but an increase in the number of species that seed has been collected from. This has largely been facilitated by the Seed Orchard expansion project funded through the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board Grassroots Grant which Bio·R received last year.

With the help of many keen volunteers, 25 raised seed production beds (below) were established on the eastern side of the Seed Orchard in late August of last year.

Frahns Farm Seed Orchard Raised Beds Bio·R January 2023
Some of our raised seed production beds.

These raised beds have allowed the cultivation and seed collection from a number of species not suited to production in the main Seed Orchard. In particular, small daises like the Button Copper-wire Daisy (Podolepis aristata) and lilies like the Vanilla Lily (Arthropodium strictum) are now able to be grown in large numbers to produce seeds for direct seeding Bio·R’s Monarto restoration site in the coming years. This is a great step forward in Bio·R’s efforts to restore complex, diverse and resilient Woodland habitats because, along with native grasses, native fobs – non-woody plants that aren’t grasses – make up much of species diversity and vegetation cover of Open and Grassy Woodlands in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

With the addition of the raised seed production beds and planting out some of the gaps in the main Seed Orchard last year, Bio·R is now cultivating and collecting the seed of over 35 species of native grass, pea, daisy, lily and small shrub. Favourable growing conditions have really benefited the new additions, helped them to put roots down and flower in their first year and already established plants have had a very productive season.

With help from Bio·R volunteers Matt Walsh and Nigel Charman, we have certainly eclipsed the total seed quantity harvested last year and with 6 weeks left of the harvest period, much of the seed needed for 2023’s restoration efforts will have been produced on site reducing the need to purchase seed from other sources.

Brad Bianco, Bio·R Ecologist

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