After the Prairie Burn
This year, after the burn, I applied our new technology to parts of the prairie next to the road approximately 2.5 acres. The results were nothing short of amazing, the plants responded with extended bloom times. Also, the amount of different butterflies, insects, bird species increased.
Along with our prairie, we planted native shrubs and trees around the acreage increasing our diversity. These small improvements in our landscaping are also amazing. The shrubs provide beautiful spring blooms, later put out berries for the birds to feed their young. Then finish the season with beautiful fall color. In winter provide some cover, also some hold the berries for the early migrating birds in the spring. These shrubs also attract a lot of insects, which the birds feed to their babies.
Adding a Pond to the Prairie Landscape
The process of keeping all these plants, trees, shrubs alive is another remarkable under taking. To accomplish this we dug our pond which is about 2 acres. This provides us with all the water for our irrigation system. The next project will be to plant a diverse planting of native shrubs around the perimeter of the pond .The soil I used to build with was clay as a base, topped off with 2’ topsoil. The dirt I refer to as glacier dirt. There is no organic matter in this soil, trying to plant this was a disaster. This helps me draw the conclusion prairies will not grow everywhere. This is a process to re-build the organic matter in the soil and rebuild the ecosystem for the soil food web.
The shrubs I will add soil enhancements at the time of planting, also use my blend of mulch to provide the new plantings all the nutrients needed for the initial planting. Further soil enhancements are needed as the shrubs mature. This will be a part of our natural landscaping system products.
My Prairie Restoration Epiphany
I have had great teachers to help in my understanding of prairie restorations. Through the years following their advice has led to some success also failures. My love of being able to grow things from seed is my greatest passion. My greatest pitfalls come when plants can’t sustain themselves. The status quo: believe natives can grow anywhere. I now believe using my soil restoration system that native wildflowers, native shrubs, native trees can once again flourish on Iowa Soils. My goal is to provide the highest quality plants, shrubs, trees. To accomplish this goal we need to re-build the eco-system that existed in our soils pre-plow era.
Another eco-system that has to be saved is the native plants being replaced by cultivars. Our insects don’t recognize these plants as host or nectar sources. The last remaining places to re-build our diverse eco-systems also improve our environment could be in your own back yards. This small step once the benefits are realized will bring hours of satisfaction. The amount of wildlife attracted to the native plants will amaze you.
My greatest achievement was learning from my mistakes, now planting as diverse of native plantings to include wildflowers, native shrubs, native trees. The greater the diversity the more insects you will attract. The more insects the more birds will come to eat them, 96% of birds feed their babies insects.