just starting out

gardeninprogressDecember 26, 2007

I'm 'trying' to start a wildflower/prairie garden in northern Michigan. I'm not a professional gardener, and prefer to work w/ the local environment. . . enhancing what already exists rather than trying to modify it. I like the idea of having wildflowers growing w/ the natural grasses that are already in the area.

We have LOTS of wildlife ranging from wild turkeys to deer and black bear.

The soil is sand. The area I'm trying to cover is a raised septic field out by the roadside. This area has partial shade w/ many mature oak, pine, and birch trees.

I sowed seed last spring and in the fall again. . . Unfortunately, I removed the moss and grasses in the area prior to sowing seed. This was recommended to us by the expert gardeners. . . However. . . A flock of wild turkeys came to feast on the seed shortly after I rolled the seed into the ground. Needless to say, I've got a few plants and barren sand at the moment.

I'm going to try this again. . . ANY IDEAS to preserve the seed from the area wildlife??????

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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

You could start the seeds in pots and transplant to the ground. Another option is to transplant from nearby into the spot - many wildflowers can be divided to produce a new plant or two without removing the original. This will give you authentic, local strains of wildflowers adapted to your area. Also, I think if you sow smaller patches of ground, rather than seed the entire area, you'll attract fewer seed eaters and manage to get at least a few seedlings.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 9:28AM
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Hi Ladyslppr,

Thanks for the advice. I transplanted a few garden renegades to the area last fall.

Just so happens people gave me 5lbs. of wildflower seed to sow over this 1000 sq. foot area.

I think your'e right about adapting local strains. There's White yarrow in the area at the moment.

Planting in pots will take too much time for my schedule at the moment. As well, there's no irrigation in this area. That's why I wanted to try to catch the moisture (and the cover) from the snow.

Warm weather is headed our way over this next week. Will see if any ground surfaces. Might be a great time to sow some perrenial seed.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 11:22PM
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The turkeys did not eat all of your seed, especially if you rolled the area after you spread your seed. If you have locally-appropriate seed and a good seed bed (which it sounds like you do) you should have success in time.

This will not be a quick process, and I think you expected to see too much progress in one growing season. You will probably see some results from last year's seeding next spring and summer.

Winter is actually a good time to seed. If you seed on bare soil in winter, the wetting/freezing/melting of the coming months will work the seeds into the soil. And many native grass and wildflower seeds need the extended wet and cold conditions to germinate.

Be patient and persistent, and enjoy your results!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 5:22PM
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I agree with the previous post. Many, if not most, of the seeds you planted last spring needed a winter of freeze/thaw before they will germinate and grow. If the seeds were prairie natives, the seeds that did germinate went dormant during the drought. Thus, you would not have seen anything this year. Even in perfect conditions prairie plants spend 1 - 2 years growing roots first with just tiny leaves. Then boom in years 3, 4 or 5 you get wildflowers. If you planted 5 pounds, you should be a good shape, even after the turkeys took their share "off the top."

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 11:58AM
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Thanks for the words of encouragement!!! There's alot of snow this year up there. So I'm still waiting for a melt before I sow the 5lbs. of seed I have. As I've been told, the seed needs to go dormant. . . and needs water. . . so I will probably move on this in a few weeks or so.

My story about this wildflower field is very sad. . . The conservation officer who originally made the suggestion to us passed away suddenly last fall, at the age of 44 years. He had been very helpful and optimistic in this project.

I'm determined to make this field work! In his memory.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Just a follow-up. . . .

Still waiting for spring in these parts. Snowfall has been incredible this year. I spoke w/ someone as to the time of year to sow the seed. . . .

They are recommending late May and mid-June. I've been told that breaking up the sowing dates might just be helpful when it comes to the wild turkeys.

Anyone else have any ideas?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 6:32PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Mulch... covering the seed bed with straw mulch, helps hide it from the wildlife... may still pick through it, but it will be harder for them to find.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:57AM
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Memorial Day Weekend. . . .

Last weekend I went for a walk in the area. After a record winter snowfall, the snow has melted and now the surrounding area is dry. Very little (if anything) was noted growing at the site.

We put down some more seed, and took ladyslippers advice and added ~ 280 peat pods w/ small wildflower seedlings.

We also added an irrigation device. We have run a hose w/ a timer out to the meadow in efforts to keep the seeds/seedlings moist.

Can't wait to return!

Fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 6:51PM
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