by John Besser and Bill Mees
After several years of preparation, we successfully spread native grass and wildflower seed in the 6-acre expansion of the CANS prairie restoration, located on the west side of Scott Branch Creek (map). This project started with removal of Eastern Redcedar that had invaded the former cow pasture, followed by two growing seasons of treatment with the herbicide glyphosate (‘Roundup’) to eliminate Tall Fescue and other tough perennial weeds.
By last fall, we were ready to seed the area, so we turned to Missouri Wildflower Nursery to provide appropriate seed mixes. The habitat in the prairie expansion area is more diverse than the original project area, with hillsides that are either open and grassy or partially shaded by scattered mature trees, and with a flat, low-lying area along the creek. We ordered three different wildflower seed mixes for these habitats (deep-soil prairie, moist prairie, and savannah) as well as different combinations of grass seeds suitable for each habitat.
We purchased 13 pounds of grass seed and 58 pounds of wildflower seed and we received our order in early January. The seed was mixed with sawdust and pelleted lime to increase the volume and weight of the seed to allow even spreading. On January 25 our contractor, Craig Allee, spread seed over most of the area with his tractor equipped with a hopper and rotary spreader. Some of the savannah area that was inaccessible by tractor was seeded by hand by CAS volunteers.
Now comes the hard part: waiting for the seed to germinate and for plants to grow and mature. We hope the late winter and early spring will bring repeated cycles of precipitation with freezing and thawing to stimulate seed germination. The 2022 growing season will be dominated by annual weeds, but by 2023 we can hope for the type of wildflower show that we have enjoyed for many years in the original prairie restoration. We hope you will visit CANS to enjoy the show.