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like to watch nature and see how I can fit in. I don't
have much luck trying to make nature fit my schedules. Everybody
wants to know - When is the best time to plant? I always
try to do what the particular species' ancestors are doing.
The way I got my best stand of bluebonnets was to cast
seed out onto the ground in late June when all the other
bluebonnets were going to seed. That is what I mean about
trying to fit in. I did not freeze, soak or poke the seeds.
They sat out on the ground all summer and germinated when
they were ready in the fall. Winter cool weather doesn't harm native wildflower plants (see photo above right).
Now, this may sound too easy
for most people. So, you may want more detailed instructions....
IS THE TIME. . . First, you must evaluate and
inventory what plants are currently on your site.
Cool season grasses or legumes are not compatible.
Ryes and fescues will crowd out your wildflower
seedlings and completely dominate in early spring.
These cool season plants must be eliminated or you
might just consider choosing another site. These
grasses can be killed out by simply exposing their
roots to the dry air by tilling. If you have warm
season grasses, scalp them and remove the thatch
most important aspect is to have the seed contact
the soil by whatever means it takes to get the job
done. Small sites can be hand raked to expose bare
soil. Larger sites can be prepared by a tractor
and various implements - discs or harrows. A very
"weedy" site might need a light plowing
or discing or tilling. Wait two or three weeks and
notice how many more dormant weed seeds might have
germinated and till again. The least soil disturbance,
noxious weeds, such as Johnsongrass, can be a big
problem. Just ask most any farmer and he will tell
you to spray it with herbicides. This is where you
must decide if using chemicals to restore the environment
is right for you. Life is full of such duality.
Plenty of information is out there if you chose
the chemical route. County agents have college degrees
in the use of chemicals
thing I have noticed in my work is that introducing
large numbers of native seeds into a weedy area
provides some pretty tough competition for the weeds.
In one field I planted a mix of eleven native wildflowers
and buffalograss. This field had a history of cockleburrs,
sunflowers and Johnsongrass. The first year the
cockleburrs and sunflowers never even returned.
I am still fighting with the Johnsongrass, but it
is definitely declining now after three years. Heavier
seeding rates will work to your benefit.
useful idea for those who have flail mowers is to lower
the blades to actually scalp the soil. This does a good
job of removing vegetation and exposing the soil without
plowing. Remember, walk lightly on the Earth. The least
amount of soil disturbance will have the most favorable
results. If possible a roller, packer or a light drag
or rake should follow the seeding to press the seed into
the soil or lightly cover the soil. Most seeds should
never be buried more than twice their diameter. Do not
bury small seeds!
you can see, the actual seeding methods are many and varied.
We have some wildflower patches with Buffalograss beneath
that we mow only two times per year. We never water our
fields. We figure our kids will need the water for cooking
and bathing when they grow up. It is about time we start
doing this in town, don't you think? Just because these
are native plants doesn't mean that a little tender, gentle
care wouldn't go a long way to guaranteeing your success.
These plants do fine in nature without any preparation
but can you imagine how many seeds that may have been
lying there for how many years with constant replenishment
that it takes to make every acre of meadow and prairie?
If only we had studied nature instead of studying books.
Did you ever think about what happens to a book if you
put it out in nature?