turning hayfield into prairie
I recently bought a farm with about 5 acres of hayfield on it. The hayfield gradually turns into a sunny bog, as the land slopes downward. In the center of the bog, there is even a small (20X60?) marsh. The wetlands attract copious wildlife, including sandhill cranes which I am particularly fond of.
I think I would like to turn part or all of the hayfield into a meadow or prairie, and I was wondering how to go about this. I do have a disc plow ordered, which will attach to my ATV. Should I plow the entire area and then seed it? Do they sell mixes of grass and wildflowers native to each area of the U.S.? I don't have any large equipment to use for pressing seed into the ground. Any suggestions?
As the land slopes down into the bog, I assume it will simply not promote the growth of the grasses/wildflowers in that area. Am I correct? I am very happy with the natural bog environment and associated wildlife, and I don't want to disturb it in any way.
Regarding mowing of the field: I would like to leave the wildflower stalks up during the winter, for the birds to eat. I also don't want to disturb nests. I would assume early spring would be a good time to mow - before the nests are established. Is this correct?
One last question: if I do decide to do this, when should I plant?
Thanks in advance for all your help. I have found Garden Web to be very helpful.