Sunday, October 20, 2013

Planting Native Seeds

Seeds germinate best on bare ground and meadows that are overgrown with established plant life don't always see new individuals each year. This is why the first step in establishing a meadow is to destroy the previously existing plant life, often by smothering the area with plastic for a full year. (Chemicals work too but aren't for everyone.) If you're impatient like I was then just planting plugs or potted plants can help give your natives a fighting chance against the lawn and weeds that are established. This is the method I went with because my lawn has lots of switch grass and weeds that spread by underground corms on the roots. What's happened though is as my native plants die of old age they're replaced with this invasive grass instead of native seedlings. The only thing that does well in these patches are Spiderwort, and taller plants like False Indigo and Tall Coreopsis. The thing is False Indigo and Tall Coreopsis don't spread that fast and Spiderwort dies back to the ground by August. I'd like to see other things seed in like the Milkweed, Liatris, Asters and other Coreopsis species.

So I've come up with a simple method of getting these plants to hopefully establish better. Because seeds germinate best on bare soil, I'm creating some bare soil. This comes in the form of several 1 and 3 gallon pots I was using to grow pepper plants and tomatoes here and there wherever they'd fit. These food plants are annuals so the soil is just going to go to waste anyhow. So I collect seeds to whatever looks ready and massage them into the soil.

Last year I noticed one of my asters had a stem fall right into a potted plant. I also had a cutting from another Aster that had fallen into a hanging basket. In both cases I found new Aster plants germinate and grow the following spring. This reduces the need to have to over winter seeds in the fridge or basement room or grow them out in the green house and have to water them in the winter. So hopefully I get some success with this method. I'm even tempted to plant specific combinations that look nice in the same pots so I can plant them that way on the following year. Pink New England Asters go great with medium height Goldenrod species for example.