Category Archives: Rain Gardens

Earthyman Article on How to Do a Dormant Seeding

When and how to do a dormant seeding is a question that is often asked when sowing native seeds.  By following these simple guidelines, you can be successful using a dormant seeding.

Make sure your site is prepared and there is no sign of any growing live vegetation present.  An exception would be if you were planning on supplementing an existing planting to add more diversity.  After the ground temperature drops below 50 degrees, you can start sowing your seed usually in the Midwest this occurs at the end of October or the first of November.  Even if you have 2 inches of snowfall, the seed can be broadcast over the snow.  Any time in late fall or even winter, seeds can be broadcast.

You can check your soil temperature in your state by googling for soil temperatures for instance in Iowa, you may go to: http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/NPKnowledge/soiltemphistory.html

If you have a small area, one to two acres or less, broadcast your seed by hand.  In this instance the seed can be mixed with 10 to 20 parts of wet sand to 1 part seed by volume.  After you have thoroughly mixed your seed with the wet sand, divide it into 2 to 4 lots and go over the entire area with each lot.  The seed can then be broadcast by hand using an ice cream container under one arm and reaching in with the other hand to grab a handful of this seed matrix.  Cast it in a swinging motion just as you would feed chickens.  With the next lot of seed, walk in a different direction so as to get a more even distribution of the seed.  This is repeated with each lot and going a different direction each time.

Since this is a dormant seeding, we are depending upon Mother Nature to achieve good seed to soil contact which is the most important element in any kind of seeding.  Mother Nature will then rain, snow, freeze and thaw. This is just what we want as it will ensure the proper stratification of the seed to break the dormancy code and allow better germination in the spring.  Stratification is a process whereby we can either by Mother Nature or human treatment break the dormancy of seeds to enable germination.

Go to Native Wildflowers & Seeds Website for a variety of quality native seeds and seed mixes.   Ion Exchange, Inc. is a Native Plant and Seed Nursery for over 25 years.  They grow and market native wildflowers, grasses, sedges and rushes.

Howard Bright’s Thoughts On The Rochester Cemetery Article

This was a great article about the Rochester Cemetery in Iowa

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/VideoNetwork/913944130001/Exploring-an-Iowa-pioneer-cemetery

It reminded me of my first years in Iowa.  In 1970, I was a Soil Scientist working for the Soil Conservation Service.  Little did I know that I would be mapping the soils of Rochester Cemetery.  I was mesmerized by the diversity of plants and the feeling that I got as I walked over this special place.  Still, I remember eating my balony and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over the noon hour and just sitting there being overwhelmed as the spirits of the past meshed with the earth and her special treasures adorning the gravesites.  This is where I learned to sense the vibrations of Iowa native plants and how different the feel was there in that cemetery compared to the feelings I got while traverseing acres and acres of corn and soybean fields.

To Purchase Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/

Plant Native Plugs Now By Following These Simple Steps From Ion Exchange, Inc.

Follow these simple steps to get your native garden going with live plant plugs:

  • Select the proper species just right for your region and environment.  Select color, bloom time, soil moisture required and sunlight conditions.
  • Eliminate all competition from existing vegetation by tillage or using a burn down herbicide such as Roundup.
  • Group your plants by species and plant in clusters to make sure you get a real burst of color during flowering time.
  • Space your plants approximately one foot on center but you may leave a greater distance between clusters.
  • Of course, plant taller species in the background so as to not to hide shorter species.
  • Use a dibble bar to plant your plugs.  A dibble bar can be hand made.  If you are in loose soil that has been tilled, you may use your hand or hand trowel but in harder untilled soil, you will need a planting device called a dibble bar that you can create or purchase.
  • Make sure your live plants, when planted have good soil contact with minimal air space around roots.  Insure this by heeling in the plants without injuring them and water them right away.
  • Mulch the entire area with approximately 4 inches of mulch.
  • You will need to maintain your garden by eliminating any unwanted weeds or species that tend to spread.
  • You may want to move some of your species in the future because you do not like the aesthetics.  You can paint your own picture after you get a feel for what looks good to you.

Earthyman

To Purchase Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/

 

Ion Exchange Inc., A Native Seed & Plant Nursery Was Quoted In The Wall Street Journal

Howard Bright co-owner with his wife Donna of Ion Exchange, Inc. http://ionxchange.com/  was recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal. For anyone who is interested in wildflowers, earth friendly solutions for using native wildflowers for landscaping this article is a must read. In the article you will see and learn how to plant a meadow of wildflowers

Click Link Below for The Wall Street Journal Article

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303754904577530851855675044.html#articleTabs=article

Ion Exchange offers easy starter kits Click Link Below To Visit Our Website

http://ionxchange.com/

Ion Exchange Inc., A Native Seed & Plant Nursery Was Quoted In The Wall Street Journal

Howard Bright co-owner with his wife Donna of Ion Exchange, Inc. http://ionxchange.com/  was recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal. For anyone who is interested in wildflowers, earth friendly solutions for using native wildflowers for landscaping this article is a must read. In the article you will see and learn how to plant a meadow of wildflowers

Click Link Below for The Wall Street Journal Article

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303754904577530851855675044.html#articleTabs=article

Ion Exchange offers easy starter kits Click Link Below To Visit Our Website

http://ionxchange.com/

Earthyman views Swamp Milkweed – Asclepias incarnata in full bloom in production field at Ion Exchange, Inc in NE Iowa. This is a prairie plant that is adaptable to many sites and attracts butterflies.

Swamp Milkweed provides beautiful Pink Blooms for your Prairie Garden.  It attracts many butterflies and will even grow in Swamps or well drained soil.  It Blooms the First Year the Plugs are planted and also Produces many seeds.

http://ionxchange.com/

To Purchase Click On Link Below

http://ionxchange.com/products/ASCLEPIAS-INCARNATA-%7C-Swamp-Milkweed.html

Pollinator Week Is June 18 – 24 2012 Ion Exchange, Inc. Purchase Your Pollinator Seed Mix Now

Pollinator Week is June 18th to 24th!
Plant a garden that butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees will love as much as you!

http://ionxchange.com/products/POLLINATOR-MIX.html

Product Description

POLLINATOR SEED MIX

 

SPECIES PLS/LB

Big Bluestem 6.53
Golden Alexanders 0.25
Blue Vervain 0.15
Alumroot 0.02
Black-eyed Susan 0.44
Common Mt. Mint 0.01
Common Spiderwort 0.17
Foxglove Beardtongue 0.02
Ironweed 0.12
Maryland Senna 0.80
Fragrant Coneflower 0.10
Great Bue Lobelia 0.01
Purple Prairie Clover 0.15
Hoary Vervain 0.10
Swamp Milkweed 0.29
9.16

Pollination by Native Bees

According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, there are over 4000 species of native bees in the U.S. alone. Bees are the most predominant pollinators of flowering plants in nature, thus contributing a vital service to the ecosystem. Bees are referred to as “keystone organisms” because of this important role.

Some native bees have names that reflect how they build nests—leafcutter bees, mason bees, miner bees, carpenter bees, digger bees, etc.  Others are named for their behavior, which include bumble bees, sweat bees, and cuckoo bees. In addition, some bees are named for the types of plants they pollinate such as squash, sunflower and blueberry bees.

When honey bees are in short supply, the pollination needs of many crops can be filled by native bees. Research reflects that native bees can be major pollinators of agricultural crops and sometimes do the job more efficiently. For instance, the blue orchard bee is a primary pollinator of cultivated apples. Another important crop pollinator is the western bumble bee, which has been used to pollinate cranberries, avocadoes, and blueberries. Native squash bees are major pollinators of cultivated squashes. Some native bees are even commercially managed like honey bees to provide pollination services.   Great news for Iowa native plants and pollinators!

 

CRP Wildlife Food Plots

CRP wildlife food plot options now allow a food plot consisting of all native grasses and forbs.  Unlike traditional grain food plots, now additional pollen and nectar will be available.  Futhermore, a native food plot will not be disked and replanted every year or every other year like the alternative grain food plots. Thus, bees utilizing ground burrows will benefit!

http://ionxchange.com

 

Pollinator Week Is June 18 – 24 2012 Ion Exchange, Inc. Purchase Your Pollinator Plant Kit Now

Pollinator Week is June 18th to 24th!
Plant a garden that butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees

will love as much as you!

http://ionxchange.com/products/POLLINATOR-PLANT-KIT.html

Product Description

Take steps to help our pollinator populations thrive. By supporting pollinators’ need for habitat, we support our own needs for food and support diversity in the natural world.

This beautiful native Pollinator Plant Kit will not only provide color throughout the seasons but will also benefit bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.  It consists of 84 plants; 7 each of the following species:

  • Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)
  • Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod)
  • Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio Spiderwort)
  • Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop)
  • Pycnanthemum virginianum (Mt. Mint)
  • Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)
  • Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazingstar)
  • Liatris liguilistylis (Meadow Blazingstar)
  • Penstemon digitalis (Foxglove Beardtongue)
  • Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia)
  • Eupatorium maculatum (Joe-pye Weed)
  • Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)

Special Bonuses are Included:

(1) Pollinator App. and

(2) Downloadable Pollinator Guide

“Farming feeds the world, and we must remember that pollinators are a critical link to our food system” –  Paul Growald, Co-Founder, Pollinator Partnership

Did you know that domestic honey bees pollinate approximately $10 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year?

Both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining and are threatened by habitat loss, disease, and excessive and/or inappropriate use of pesticides.

Commercial bees lost to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) highlights how
severe the issues of proper hive management are to reduce stresses caused
by disease, pesticide use, insufficient nutrition, and transportation practices.

http://ionxchange.com

Baling Prairie Spiderwort at Ion Exchange Video

Planting Native Wildflowers Spring Bloomers Acorus calamus Sweet Flag

Acorus calamus Sweet Flag

Sun Exposure Prairie
Soil Moisture Wet, Wet Mesic
Bloom Time Spring, Early Summer
May, June July
Bloom Color Green
Height 2 feet
Wetland Code OBL
Germ Code C(60)
Seeds Per Packet 300
Seeds Per Ounce 6,600

 

Native Americans chewed the root or made a tea from the dried root for treating gas, stomachaches, indigestion, heartburn, fevers, colds, and coughs; anti-spasmodic, anti-conversant,  central nervous system depressant; in India it has been used for many years as an aphrodisiac. They also chewed the root to stave off thirst and as a stimulant on long journeys.

German studies showed the controlled dosages of the root helped lower serum cholesterol levels in rabbits.

In Appalachia, freshly cut leaves are still used as an insecticide.

The inner portions of the tender young shoots make a very tasty Spring salad. The Pennsylvania Dutch used the root to flavor pickles and the powdered root has been used to make cachets and scent perfumes.

 

Edible Uses:
The rhizome is candied and made into a sweetmeat. It can be peeled and washed to remove the bitterness and then eaten raw like a fruit. It makes a palatable vegetable when roasted and can also be used as a flavouring. Rich in starch, the root contains about 1% of an essential oil that is used as a food flavouring. The root also contains a bitter glycoside. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity.

The dried and powdered rhizome has a spicy flavour and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

The young and tender inflorescence is often eaten by children for its sweetness. Young leaves – cooked. The fresh leaves contain 0.078% oxalic acid. The leaves can be used to flavour custards in the same way as vanilla pods.

The inner portion of young stems is eaten raw. It makes a very palatable salad.

Medicinal Uses:
Sweet flag has a very long history of medicinal use in many herbal traditions. It is widely employed in modern herbal medicine as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. In Ayurveda it is highly valued as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system and as a remedy for digestive disorders. However, some care should be taken in its use since some forms of the plant might be carcinogenic – see the notes on toxicity for more information.

The root is anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hallucinogenic, hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of digestive complaints, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. It is said to have wonderfully tonic powers of stimulating and normalizing the appetite. In small doses it reduces stomach acidity whilst larger doses increase stomach secretions and it is, therefore, recommended in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. However if the dose is too large it will cause nausea and vomiting.

Sweet flag is also used externally to treat skin eruptions, rheumatic pains and neuralgia. An infusion of the root can bring about an abortion whilst chewing the root alleviates toothache. It is a folk remedy for arthritis, cancer, convulsions, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, epilepsy etc. Chewing the root is said to kill the taste for tobacco.

Roots 2 – 3 years old are used since older roots tend to become tough and hollow. They are harvested in late autumn or early spring and are dried for later use. The dry root loses 70% of its weight, but has an improved smell and taste. It does, however, deteriorate if stored for too long.

Caution is advised on the use of this root, especially in the form of the distilled essential oil, since large doses can cause mild hallucinations. See also the notes above on toxicity.

A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots. It is used in the treatment of flatulence, dyspepsia, anorexia and disorders of the gall bladder.

Warning! – Some species are thought to contain the carcinogen beta-asarone. Vapors from the roots do repel some insects. The root, when candied, was a long-time pioneer confection. It was boiled all day long, cut into small pieces, and then boiled again for a few more minutes in thick maple syrup. This “candy” was used most often used to aid digestion, but also used to serve as a tonic and physic.

Sweet Flag