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Old 02-09-2010, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default New pocket prairie garden project

I started a new prairie plant border last year and it was so successful that I am tripling its size this year. I started last fall by sheet composting the area with newspaper and shredded leaves. Soon I'll add some finished compost, alfalfa meal and BioTone to get the digestion going and add some bacteria and fungi.

Here's my plant list so far:
FORBS
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly milkweed
Aster novae-angliae - New England aster
Aster oblongifolius - Aromatic aster
Baptisia australis - Blue wild indigo
Coreopsis tripteris - Tall coreopsis
Echinacea pallida - Pale purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea - Purple coneflower
Echinacea tennesseensis - Tennessee coneflower
Heliopsis helianthoides - Oxeye sunflower
Liatris spicata - Dense blazing star
Penstemon digitalis - Foxglove beardtongue
Ratibida pinnata - Gray-headed coneflower
Rudbeckia fulgida - Orange coneflower
Rudbeckia laciniata - Cutleaf coneflower
Rudbeckia subtomentosa - Sweet coneflower
Rudbeckia triloba - Brown-eyed susan
Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver’s root

GRASSES
Bouteloua curtipendula - Sideoats grama
Schizachyrium scoparium - Little bluestem
Sorghastrum nutans - Indiangrass
Sporobolus heterolepsis - Prairie dropseed

I've promised myself to take progress photos this time. Right now the whole thing is covered in a new blanket of snow we got last night. One third of the area was planted last year so I'll be able to see the difference one year's growth can make by the end of the season. I know this will be a popular spot for birds and butterflies, they visited a lot last year. I just have to keep my eye on the rabbits especially while the plants are young. They loved the liatris and coneflowers.

I'll update once spring arrives!
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:22 PM   #2
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Pocket Prairie - that sounds nice. That's an impressive list of plants for a start-up garden

What do you do to discourage the rabbits when they show up?
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:44 AM   #3
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Sounds way cool. What's BioTone?
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:50 AM   #4
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Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot of plants. I have about 700 s.f. in the bed and about 500 s.f. to fill. If I allow 4 s.f. per plant, average spacing at 2', then I need 125 plants. I have 62 plants on order. So I guess I better start ordering more! As far as rabbits go, we used to have a dog but she passed away last fall. I don't like a lot of intervention in my gardening practices but I might have to put up a temporary fence until the seedlings take off. Most of what the rabbits ate last year came back from the sturdy root system they put out early in the season.

Bio-Tone is an Espoma product that contains bacteria, micorrhizae and humates. It gets the seedlings off to a good start. Here's the website if you want more info. All Natural Organic Plant Food with Bio-tone Microbes. I tried this product last year for the first time and was very happy with it. I've used the Espoma "Tones" for years in my gardens.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:12 PM   #5
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Would Bio-tone be an organic product?
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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Looks like a great project! I'm looking forward to the photo updates this spring and summer.

Have you considered any host plants for the butterflies? There are some good threads on host plants in the Butterflies, Moths & Hummingbirds forum:
Butterflies, Moths, & Hummingbirds - Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:04 AM   #7
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Yes, Bio-Tone is an all organic product. Espoma used to use some synthetic fertilizers in their blends but switched to all natural ingredients a couple of years ago. You should be able to go on their website and view the fact sheets listing all the ingredients.

I admit I usually think of using nectar plants before I think of host plants for butterflies. Probably the two plants I am using are the most obvious host plants AND nectar plants, butterflyweed and asters. I have the Rodale book Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard. I skimmed through to see if I have any other host plants and I do have some here that nature supplied. Tulip trees, wild cherries and ash for the tiger swallowtails, Sassafras for the spicebush swallowtail, partridge pea for the cloudless giant sulphur, maypops and violets for the frittilaries. I usually put out some parsley plants for the black swallowtails that we have tons of here. I have bronze fennel in rose garden and they love that too.

I'll check out the Butterflies forum too, thanks NEWisc.
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Old 02-11-2010, 02:16 PM   #8
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Tks linrose. I am trying very hard to garden organically.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:33 PM   #9
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dragonfly01 Love pocket prairie idea

And for lists of good plants for attracting birds & flutterbyes, you could take a gander at "Bird by Bird Gardening" by Roth & similar. I found it at the local library.. they have tons of titles along this line, so go search at an online bookstore if your local one doesn't have anything.. & there's always my favorite - inter-library loan. Your favorite original search engine - the reference librarian - can find all kinds of good stuff for you. I play "stump the search engine" all the time. Great fun & very productive.
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:25 PM   #10
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Default Early spring . . . awaiting plants

The past couple of days the sun finally shone, I came out of my hibernation, squinted, and took some pics of the area I will call my "pocket prairie". Ignore the date stamp, everytime I change the battery on my camera I never remember to turn it off. Anyhoo, there's not much to look at yet but the bed now lies under a layer of chopped up leaves over newspaper we put on last fall. The stems of a few plants I put in last year are still standing, littlebluestem, rudbeckia triloba and cutleaf coneflower and purple coneflower still are standing. Soon I'll cut them back and get ready to plant the rest of the bed.

Here's the area, it's about 700 s.f. or so. There are some stems left from last year too.

I can't wait to get going!
Attached Thumbnails
New pocket prairie garden project-prairie-garden-001.jpg   New pocket prairie garden project-littlebluestem-browneyedsusan.jpg   New pocket prairie garden project-cutleafconeflower.jpg  
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