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Old 06-20-2012, 04:52 PM   #11
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Call the local fire department and see if it's OK to burn. ....If you are careful and the area is small and you have hoses at the ready, and the town agrees, burning might be OK.

I have a healthy respect for fire, just like flooding it can get out of control in an instant!
I think of fire used on an established meadow...I read, years ago, to burn 1/3
of the meadow/prairie to allow butterfly chrysalises to survive in the unturned areas. Once I convert the whole field into meadow, I could burn one third each year. However, I am a little wary to try, although I agree getting the local fire department involved makes sense...from what I've read they may want the practice.

Now, assuming I were able to set this all up and be willing to try a burn, would burning the European weeds and grasses totally eliminate them so that all I'd have to do is sow the seeds?

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You will probably not want to burn near that tree in the second area, perhaps you can just scalp the grass and go from there. Also it looks like it's on a slope so you will need some straw mulch to keep the seeds in place.
I don't plan to burn that section on the slight slope (if I burn anything..fighting reservations now). That section, I plan to plant wildflowers I've grown from seed...probably in the fall after growing them in pots for a season. I want to keep that section all under 2-3 ft. so as not to interfere with seeing oncoming traffic as I leave the driveway. For now I have mostly shorter asters, Penstemon digitalis, sundrops (from the previous owner's flower beds--need to check if they are native), and some two-flowered Cynthia (dwarf dandelion...Krigia biflorum). I'd love to add little bluestem and other short native grasses.
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:46 PM   #12
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A proper fire will eliminate all the top growth so that you can seed right into the soil. Some weeds will come back; that's inevitable. But over time the natives will tend to dominate if you keep burning every other year or so. Folks out in the midwest have this prairie burning thing down to a science. I remember a few years ago reading waaayyy more than I will ever need to know about how to do controlled burns for native prairie management. A little Internet searching should get you to some useful stuff, from how to do firebreaks to how often you burn to seeding density and more.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:53 AM   #13
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Some fire departments, volunteer departments especially, welcome the opportunity to have the chance to practice controlled burn techniques and will come and do a burn for you in exchange for a donation to the department. My folks used to do it every few years to help regenerate their wild blueberries and eliminate undesirables. It is a great, underused technique that will bring back all sorts of natives lying dormant in your soil, too.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:05 PM   #14
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A proper fire will eliminate all the top growth so that you can seed right into the soil. Some weeds will come back; that's inevitable. But over time the natives will tend to dominate if you keep burning every other year or so. Folks out in the midwest have this prairie burning thing down to a science. I remember a few years ago reading waaayyy more than I will ever need to know about how to do controlled burns for native prairie management. A little Internet searching should get you to some useful stuff, from how to do firebreaks to how often you burn to seeding density and more.
Thanks, amelanchier. I read up a little a long while back...I'll be sure to look up more things as I continue to plan.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:07 PM   #15
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Some fire departments, volunteer departments especially, welcome the opportunity to have the chance to practice controlled burn techniques and will come and do a burn for you in exchange for a donation to the department. My folks used to do it every few years to help regenerate their wild blueberries and eliminate undesirables. It is a great, underused technique that will bring back all sorts of natives lying dormant in your soil, too.
Great suggestion, Hedge!

I had wondered if there were any native seeds lying dormant in the soil...I'd love to find that to be true, but have to wonder as this had probably existed as farm land for at least 100 years.
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:21 PM   #16
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It's been awhile, how's your meadow coming dap? Your land may have been farmed but it also could have been used for pasture like ours was so there will be a whole different seed bank there.

Management has always been an issue for us, we don't burn because of all the trees in the field but mow every three years. This year we decided to mow in the early spring for the first time and it has proven so far to be far better than mowing in the late summer/early fall. Mowing in the spring favors the forbs and discourages the early growth of the non-native cool season grasses. I just toured the field and the butterflyweed is growing like gangbusters, it is head and shoulders above the grasses so it is getting a good jump on outcompeting the surrounding vegetation. It's the same with milkweed and ironweed. In fact we hardly had any milkweed last year but we have huge new patches of it coming up where just a few once were. I'm hoping the hoary mountain mint will come back better too, it was in decline and the swallowtails just love it, it grows in a large patch on the upland slope and is scattered elsewhere around the field. Goldenrod, as always, will come back in force.
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:39 PM   #17
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That sounds great linrose.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:51 AM   #18
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It's been awhile, how's your meadow coming dap? Your land may have been farmed but it also could have been used for pasture like ours was so there will be a whole different seed bank there.
So nice of you to ask, linrose. (I was searching for a different thread, and saw this *unread* one within the listed results...if not, who knows when I'd have seen it.)

I can't really say I've made a lot of progress in the meadow...but, I can't really say I haven't either. It depends on how one looks at it. So far, this one small section that I smothered years ago with a huge load of free woodchips from the road crew, is starting to really fill in...I planted it little by little (directly into the decaying mulch) with seedlings I grew myself (winter sowing my collected seeds). I've also purchased a few things (like mountain mint and wild petunia (I think I first saw that when we met down in Kentucky ). The diversity and succession of bloom is not what I want it to be, and it is really only in its second year...so it is looking better, but not its best. I transplanted some seedling little bluestem in the fall (that I sowed myself)...unfortunately they don't seem to have taken. I have more coming up in pots now...I'm going to try for getting them in the ground soon so that they can get their roots down. If that fails, I will direct sow them this fall/winter...perhaps the soil is too rich for them with the woodchips?

I am smothering other areas with cardboard and leaves with the intention of planting my home grown "plugs" (they are not individual plugs, but mass planted seedlings that need to be separated with a fork)...and or, I will direct sow seeds in these prepared areas.

So, aside from the small section described above, I have other sections where I just added purchased potted wildflowers among the non-native grasses and weeds--then I have something to weed around. Cup plant and New York ironweed are among them...and are growing well this year. The progress I've made is mostly in the year long process of smothering sections to be planted in fall, sowing and growing hundreds (thousands?) of various species, and continuing to collect seed from what I've grown in past years...with the intention of making my own seed mix (likely supplemented by purchased seed of various species that I don't yet have) to direct sow in the prepared ground.


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Originally Posted by linrose View Post
Management has always been an issue for us, we don't burn because of all the trees in the field but mow every three years. This year we decided to mow in the early spring for the first time and it has proven so far to be far better than mowing in the late summer/early fall...
Thanks for your shared experiential knowledge. I like the idea of mowing in the spring...especially if you get such great results. Great to hear your natives are benefiting so much from it...as are the wildlife that depend on them. Your butterfly weed must be beautiful.

I could really benefit from what you've learned in managing your property/meadow. Thanks for all you share.

...As for burning...for some reason, I keep thinking of using the rusted out ring of a burn barrel as a portable "fire pit/fire ring" (my brain is not coming up with words any more)...I envision burning small sections in the field just to see if something special grows in the small burned areas.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:54 AM   #19
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I will try to post some pictures in a bit...right now I'm very late for my walk (I'm trying to walk every morning).
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:48 PM   #20
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I don't know about your little bluestem dap, I know it doesn't like it too dry or too wet either but is otherwise adaptable. I don't think the soil is too rich, in fact LB likes rich soils. Well-drained soils are a must. It has taken a very long while for it to mature in my gardens. Out in the field where it occurs naturally it does just fine.

Keep on smotherin'! That does a great job of preparing for a new planting. It all takes time I know and most of us are too impatient, especially me! I like that you are planting into your decomposed mulch pile now with homegrown seeds, very cool. What did you plant there?

Mountain mint and wild petunia are great plants, so glad you have them. They will spread readily for you for sure. Cupplant will also self-seed readily, ours have spilled out from the prairie bed into the field getting pretty large even with our spring mowing this year. They could bloom this year I'm not sure. We have tall ironweed down in the low lying areas in the field, especially in the sycamore grove. I don't really monitor their spread but I think their population rises and falls with the amount of rain we get each year. I'm happy as long as we have a good many of them.

We do struggle with management, we want to keep the crysalises and shelter habitat intact through winter and mow after emergence but before ground nesters need shelter. I worry about our wild turkeys who nest on the ground in tall grasses. I'm happy to see a group of poults with their mom walking around the field these days. I know the 1/3 mow rule but we just don't have the equipment to do it ourselves and the bushhogger we hire charges a lot to come out every time. I wish we had our own equipment, maybe a future purchase.
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