Saturday, February 10, 2018

Seeding the Snow

It surprises some people that we might seed the snow.
But it makes the seeds very happy.

As in nature, they don't function best sitting dry in bags all winter.
Wild seeds are adapted to being cold, and wet.
To get buried in the soil, they are adapted to the freeze thaw-cycle, 
which churns the upper soil, and covers up the seeds.

We stewards are busy, and it's important to broadcast seed right.
But it's February. Spring is on the way. 
Un-broadcast seeds are eager to get out. 

Our mixes contain hundreds of species.
All different sizes and shapes.
Propagules for flowers of every color.
Grasses, sedges, ferns, lilies, orchids.

Do these seeds look to be scattered awful thin?
Yet this is precious rare stuff. 
And every plant will be wide and tall in different ways when it grows. 
We've tried different densities, and this seems about right. 

Some seeds will be eaten by birds.
Although it will snow again tonight.
So these will be safe for now.

Some will not be quite right for this habitat.
So they may germinate and die.
Or the seedling may be eaten by a snail.
But many will thrive. We know that, from experience. 

Keep in mind that these rare and uncommon plants
as they mature, will be from six inches to three feet wide
and from a few inches to many feet tall.
Scattered as the seeds are, this space will be full of life.

Here is the before. 
Beautiful, but lonely.
We have cut out the buckthorn.
We have weeded and herbicided the invasives to prepare for this day.
We will cut more pole trees to "let there be more light" next summer.
We will pull noxious weeds for a year or two -
while this patch still needs intensive care.

But now it looks like this.
Formerly pristine snow trampled in concentric circles.
Temporarily foreign gritty-looking stuff de-purifyng the crystalline whiteness.
And yet, nature is returning.
Plants and animals will thrive in this nature on into the future.
The ecosystem is pleased. 

1 comment:

Deborah Antlitz said...

Watching prairie dock in winter, I see the little birds perch and bend its long dead stalk. When they fly, it straightens and hurls the seeds out like a catapult. They skate like little sleds across the wind-glazed crusted snow. They will stop where the wind stills, perhaps at a little dip or rise in the land, some microhabitat that will be just right when the summer sun and heat return.

Other seeds like prairie grasses blew away in the autumn wind storms, and with their long flexing awns buried themselves in the wet soils of early winter.