Category Archives: CRP Land

Lesson Learned from the Land Article

As I mapped soils throughout eastern Iowa back in the early 70’s, it was interesting for me to put together a picture of what the original landscape looked like.  In eastern Cedar County, I came upon some soils that did not fit the general description of prairie or savanna soils in that they were somewhere in between the two. I pondered this as I walked day after day over the land and began to see the picture in my mind.  Savannas are transitions from prairie to a micro climate that favors some tree growth.  There must be all grades of transition but what are they called?  When does a prairie become a prairie as we walk westward out of the timber into the savanna into the “prairie”?  When does a prairie become a savanna?  What is your definition of a savanna?  I don’t think there is a definition or name that can be placed on this “la la land of the past”.  One way to look at these ecosystems is to imagine an interaction not individual influences, although they may be critical.  If we back away in time and peer down from above, we can see a constant winning and waning of movement much like the tides that come and go.

What footprint is left in the soil to give us clues to the past? Certainly visual imprints are evident even though the land is now covered with corn and beans.

John Madson, who wrote Where the Sky Began, so beautifully described his vision of coming out of the timber and seeing, looming in front of him, an open sky and a sea of grass as far as the eye could see.  He made mention of the front line soldiers sent out by the savanna or timber which allowed the advancement of the savanna and timber upon the prairie.  Wild plumb trees were sent out as a front line defense or offense depending upon which the environment favored.  Sometimes the battle would be won by the prairie and other times by the savanna and eventually a total overthrow of one over the other but the soldiers of the front line are always forgotten for they are in this “la la land of transition”.   I was reminded of them that day in Cedar County, Iowa as I observed the grainy grey coats of the now vanished front line soldiers of the savanna who left their mark upon the prairie soil profile.  Were they lost in battle as they succumbed to the forces of the prairie or were they stopped dead in their tracks by the ever- advancing moldboard plow?

I am reminded of my life and how it is much like this ever- changing world that we know as Prairie and Savanna but not a struggle or battle but the ebb and flow with the tides of life.  Just as every component of the prairie and savanna are a part of the total wonderment of creation so are we.  Are we on the frontline of change?  Do we have the courage to move forward regardless of the elements that we face?  The lessons of the land are there for all of us if we just open our eyes and hearts and breathe in the intuitive powers of this great planet.

Howard Bright, President
Ion Exchange, Inc.
http://www.ionxchange.com
800-291-2143
“Helping you create your own natural beauty”

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Iowan’s Plant Natives at Half the Cost Article

Iowan’s are planting native wildflowers and grasses at one half the cost of the seed.  Through a special program and a cooperative effort amongst private growers, Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever, it is possible to get a voucher to add much diversity to your landscape using species that are native to Iowa.  This is a one of a kind program that benefits everyone involved.  It provides wildlife cover for pheasants, deer, rabbits and a host of beneficial insects including butterflies, moths and many other pollinators.  The natives include such species as Indian Grass and Big Bluestem which root down to enormous depths into the soil which control erosion much better than European imports such as Broom Grass.

Iowa witnessed one of the largest and fastest ecosystem loss in the world as the Tallgrass Prairie was very quickly turned into corn production.  Millions of acres of black rich soil that had been created by the deep-rooted prairie has now vanished.

Thanks to this special Habitat Program created by the  cooperation of Iowa Landowners, Iowa Native Seed Growers, The Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever, the once lost Tallgrass Prairie is returning to once again replenish precious topsoil and control erosion.

By Howard Bright  http://ionxchange.com/

Earthyman Article: Behold the Natural Beauty but Don’t Compare or Curse the Burdock

In Western traditions we are constantly comparing one thing to the other.  Which do you like better… brown or blue eyes, basketball or football,  chicken or fish?  Nature did not give us all the glorious scenes to judge one place or species over the other.  Why does one thing have to be better than another?   Think about it.  When we compare or try to make one thing better than another, our minds leave the natural beauty of the entity and go to a place of judgement and diminish the innate qualities of that which is being analyzed.

More examples that nature puts before us to admire but get turned around occur in the plant world.   One such example is the Common Burdock, known as a terrible weed, ugly and a plague for horses’ manes and tails.  Soon, a hatred is built up regarding this plant.  What did “The Great Spirit” have in mind when the Burdock was born into existence?  Certainly it is well equipped to survive as the seed heads cling to any thing that brushes up against it .  It is even more tenacious than velcro which by the way was invented as this natural clinging trait of Burdock was copied by man.  Certainly if we were hungry or starving we could dig the roots of Burdock and survive by eating them.

If we look closely to the flower of the Burdock, it holds its own natural beauty but it is not considered as a prize wildflower possession by any landscaper or gardener.  Truly the beauty is lost as we curse the power that the Burdock has over us.  We wage war against it by digging it, spraying it and killing it anyway that we can.  Can we change these natural traits or is “The Great Spirit” trying to tell us something?  When did we start to complain about this plant?  The more we complained, the more we got.  Right?  Nature’s signs go unheeded and the Burdock serves as a red flag that something isn’t right with the harmony of our use of the land.  As an early indicator, it makes itself obvious as we overgraze our pastures and pay no attention to the overuse of them.  Those who heed the warning sign back away and start treating the land with more respect and the Burdock starts to diminish over time.

Burdock is not less than, more than or uglier than.  It just is, so appreciate your football or basketball for what it is and as we adjust our lives to look beneath the surface and accept all diversity as beautiful in its own light.

Howard Bright

http://ionxchange.com/

hbright@acegroup.cc

Ratibida Pinnata : Yellow Coneflower

Product Description:
“Drooping Coneflower, Gray Coneflower, Prairie Coneflower (also applied to R. columnifera), Weary Susan, Grayheaded Coneflower”

Origin of the name Ratibida is not known. Pinnata comes from the Latin word meaning “featherlike

Sun Exposer: Prairie, Savanna
Soil Moisture: Mesic, Dry Mesic
Bloom Time: Summer, Fall (July, August, September)
Bloom Color: Yellow
Max Height: 5 Feet
Wetland Code: UPL
Germ Code: C(30)
Seeds Per Ounce: 30,000

Found throughout the Tallgrass Prairie region and extensively elsewhere. Prefers dry areas, roadsides, along old railroad right-of-ways. Root system is a very stout, sturdy rhizome. One or several yellow flowers may top a single stem. Grows tall and erect to about 4 feet. Grows easily from seed and is often found as a sturdy and plentiful survivor on former prairies where nearly all of the original plants have disappeared.

Native Americans made a refreshing tea from the cones and leaves of yellow coneflower. The Meskwaki used the root as an ingredient to cure toothaches.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Usse: Unknown

Herbal Uses: Unknown

To Purchase This Native Wildflower Click on Ion Exchange, Inc., Link Below

http://ionxchange.com/products/RATIBIDA-PINNATA-%7C-Yellow-Coneflower.html

 

 

 

Liatris: Blazing Star of Prairie and Garden

Liatris is a tough and undemanding prairie plant, tolerant of poor soil and less-than-ideal moisture situations. It’s also a perennial border standout and florist’s staple. The long-lasting blooms of this summer- and fall-blooming American native attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. This is one wildflower that stands out wherever it’s planted, be it roadside, naturalized area or formal garden.

Identification
Some 30 species of liatris are native to nearly every state east of the Rocky Mountains as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. A number of the species and several cultivars are considered worthy of the ornamental garden. Early American settlers called this member of the Aster family “blazing star” or “gayfeather” because of its bright bottle brush-like flowers. Another pioneer name, “colic root,” referred to its medicinal use as an intestinal antispasmodic. Some types of liatris were known as “devil’s bite” or “button snakeroot” because of their reputation as a remedy for snakebite, particularly from rattlesnakes.

Image
Monarch on L. aspera

The foliage of liatris is spiky and grass-like, with leaves that are larger at the base of the plant and become smaller at the top.  In mid- to late summer, the stems produce many tiny, star-like florets. Unlike most other spike-flowered plants, liatris (with the exception of L. aspera) opens from the top of the spike downward, rather than from the bottom up. Depending on the variety, the spikes’ blossoms may be purple, pinkish-purple or white, and grow from 1 to 5 feet high. In the fall, liatris foliage turns an attractive shade of bronze, and the dried stalks serve as swaying perches for birds attracted to the seedheads.

Culture
Liatris plants prefer full sun but will accept some degree of shade. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils, but most require a well-drained situation. Plant in either early spring or in late summer or early autumn, spacing the plants about 1 foot apart. Watering regularly during its first year helps liatris become established, after which it becomes fairly drought-tolerant. Avoid overwatering, because it can cause plants to rot, and don’t overfertilize, because it can cause the flower stalks to flop. 

Depending on the species, liatris may emerge from a corm, rhizome or elongated root. Once liatris matures, you can propagate it by dividing large clumps in the spring, just as the leaves are emerging. Use a knife or sharp spade to separate the corms or roots.

Varieties
Many kinds of liatris are readily available from nurseries and garden centers. Even small plants often bloom the first year they are planted, and they become more impressive every year. Species liatris are also readily grown from seed. Some varieties to look for include:

Image L. scariosa (Eastern blazing star, New England blazing star, tall gayfeather) typically grows from 2 to 4 feet. If cultivated in a more fertile setting, it may require staking. The lavender, rose or white flowers resemble buttons, with individual flower heads growing from short stalks coming off the stem.
Image L. aspera (rough blazing star) features pink flowers on 1- to 3-foot spikes, blooming from August through October. Hardy to zone 4, this liatris prefers dry to moderately moist soil, and can be found growing in sandy fields and dunes.
Image L. pycnostachya (prairie blazing star, Kansas gayfeather, cattail gayfeather or button snakeroot) is hardy to zone 3 and prefers moist or even wet sites. The flowers may be purple, rose-purple or white, and appear on 2- to 5-foot spikes between July and September.
Image L. ligulistylis (meadow blazing star, round-headed blazing star, showy blazing star) prefers moderate moisture, and can be found growing in meadows, prairies and along the banks of streams. Pink to purple, 3- to 5-foot flower spikes appear in August and September. This liatris is particularly attractive to butterflies and is hardy to zone 4.
Image L. punctata (dotted blazing star or spotted gayfeather) is a drought-tolerant native of the Great Plains. Its long tap root makes it useful for xeriscaping. Pink flowers appear on 1- to 2-foot spikes in July through September. L. punctata is hardy in zones 4 through 8.
Image L. spicata (dense blazing star or spike gayfeather), hardy to zone 3, likes moisture and is found in marshes and meadows. Its rose-purple flower spikes reach 1 1/2 to 5 feet in August and September. Among the hybridized forms of L. spicata are ‘Alba’, with pure white flowers and ‘Floristan Violet’ with strong, bright violet stems. ‘Kobold’ is a small, compact plant, reaching only 18 to 24 inches high, with deep purple blooms.

Garden Uses
Liatris is an obvious choice for providing color to a naturalized planting, where it pairs well with prairie grasses, echinacea and coneflower. It’s also right at home in more formal settings, where the tall stalks provide punctuation and contrast to mound-shaped perennials. The warm rosy-purple blooms of liatris are a good foil for yellow flowers such as goldenrod, coreopsis and later-blooming golden daylilies, as well as silver-leaved plants like lamb’s ears and wormwood. Although the spikes look handsome planted in large groups or drifts, they also work well planted here and there as single accents. Shorter cultivars are best appreciated near the front of the border. Taller varieties needn’t be relegated to the rear of the garden — they make great “see-through” perennials, adding texture and variety to the border when you place them in front of shorter plants. 

Liatris and Critters
Image
In my research about liatris, I learned that this plant is beneficial to the diet of deer and antelope, and can be used as food for grazing livestock such as sheep. Although I have no livestock, my urban garden is home to herds of rabbits and chipmunks. Unfortunately, these critters do more than just nibble foliage — once they bite through a tall stalk, you can say goodbye to its flowers for the season. After bunnies decimated most of my magnificent 5-foot-tall white L. pycnostachya, I salvaged the remaining two stalks by wrapping them in plastic netting (the kind that oranges come in) up to about 12 inches — not pretty to look at, but preferable to gnawed stumps.

Cutting and Drying
Floral arrangers favor tall stems of liatris for adding a colorful vertical element to their designs. You can also use liatris in dried arrangements. Whether you’re harvesting the flowers for fresh or dried use, cut the stalks when the flowers are only one-half to two-thirds open. Liatris is easy to preserve by hanging the stalks upside down and allowing them to air dry for several weeks. Good air circulation is important as the flowers dry, otherwise they are apt to become moldy. Drying liatris in a dessicant such as sand or silica gel may help preserve more of the flower’s bright color.


Photo credits:
thumbnail by wallgrom
butterfly on L. aspera by mccormaka
L. spicata by Sentrawoods
DG Member photos:
L. scariosa by poppysue
L. aspera by sittingbones
L. pycnostachya by ADKSpirit
L. ligulistylis by Moby
L. punctata by Joy

L. spicata by Floridian

Article Taken from DavesGarden Website

To Purchase Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit http://ionxchange.com/search.php?search_query=liatris&x=0&y=0

 

 

 

Canada Anemone Seed Harvest Completed at Ion Exchange, Inc.

Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) seed harvest completed at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa filmed by Earthyman

To Purchase Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) Click on Link Below

http://ionxchange.com/products/ANEMONE-CANADENSIS-%7C-Canada-Anemone.html

http://ionxchange.com/

Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture Article

Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture

Help UCS Set the Record Straight by Sharing Our New Ad Campaign

Monsanto’s advertisements tell an impressive tale of the agribusiness giant’s achievements: Feeding a growing population. Protecting natural resources. Promoting biodiversity.

It sounds wonderful, but unfortunately, there’s a catch: These claims are often exaggerated, misleading or downright false. Monsanto’s products—and the practices they promote—may sustain the company’s profits, but the evidence shows that they stand in the way of truly sustainable solutions to our food and farming challenges.

In the ads below, we counter Monsanto’s feel-good rhetoric with some facts gleaned from UCS analysis. Share them with friends, and spread the word: when it comes to healthy farming, Monsanto fails!

(Click on the images to see full-size versions.)

#1: More Herbicide + Fewer Butterflies = Better Seeds?

Monsanto Says: “In the hands of farmers, better seeds can help meet the needs of our rapidly growing population, while protecting the earth’s natural resources.”

In Fact: Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, genetically engineered to tolerate the company’s Roundup herbicide,increased herbicide use by an estimated 383 million pounds between 1996 and 2008. And Monarch butterflies have laid 81 percent fewer eggs thanks to habitat loss since Roundup Ready was introduced.

#2: A Bumper Crop of Superweeds

Monsanto Says: “Our rapidly growing population is putting limited resources–such as land, water, and energy–under increased pressure.”

In Fact: The challenge is real, but Monsanto’s products aren’t the answer. UCS analysis shows that GE crops have so far done little to improve yields in the U.S. Meanwhile—speaking of rapidly growing populations—overuse of Roundup Ready crops has spawned an epidemic of “superweeds,” causing huge problems for U.S. farmers.

#3: All Wet on Drought Tolerance

Monsanto Says: “With the right tools, farmers can conserve more for future generations.”

In Fact: If farmers want to conserve more water, Monsanto’s DroughtGard corn isn’t the right tool. A recent UCS study found that DroughtGard won’t help farmers reduce water use—and its engineered drought tolerance will likely only be useful in moderate drought conditions. (Research has shown that organic farming methods could improve drought-year yields by up to 96%.)

Article Taken From Union Of Concerned Scientists Website

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/impacts_genetic_engineering/monsanto-fails-at-improving.html

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