Category Archives: Sowing Seed

Native Seed Cleaning Demonstration at Ion Exchange, Inc. “Native Seed & Plant Nursery”

Seed Cleaning is in full swing at Ion Exchange, Inc., “Native Seed & Plant Nursery

Fanning Mills are a Critical Element In Cleaning Native Seeds

There are many steps in the process of cleaning native seeds. Each step needs to be understood if you are interested in cleaning your own seed or if you are just curious.

The fanning mill is an old invention but most farmers owned fanning mills to clean their clover seed and oats. However, they are also very effective in eliminating chaff and unwanted weed seeds from native seeds. Usually there are two screens in the mill on a shaker. In older days they were hand cranked to operate but now we have electricity. In the beginning, only one screen was used at a time and held with both hands while shaking back and forth. If the holes were the correct size, the seed would fall through and leave the chaff on top of the screen. We started cleaning our seed this way until we were able to purchase an old 2B Clipper Fanning Mill.

seed1Clipper 2B Fanning Mill

Hand Operated Fanning Mill

seed2

Hand Screens

seed3

 

Take a look at a short video of one of our fanning mills.  

For All Your Native Wildflowers & Seeds Visit Our Website at Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.

 

 

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Plant of the Week from Ion Exchange, Inc. ECHINACEA PALLIDA | Pale Purple Coneflower

Echinacea from the Greek word for “sea urchin” or “hedgehog” referring to the spiny chaff at the center of these flowers. Pallida is from the latin word for “pale”.

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Perennial; reaches 2 to 3 feet; leaves are mostly basal and elongated ovals up to 7 inches long. Single, pale purple flowers top a stem with a few stiff hairs and few leaves. Favors open prairies and dry open woods of the Tallgrass region; occasionally found along undisturbed roadsides. Blooms from May to July.

Native Americans of the Plains are said to have used Echinacea for more medicinal purposes than any other plant group. The root (chewed or brewed in a tea) was used for snakebites, spider bites, cancers, toothaches, burns, hard-to-heal sores, colds and flu. Current science confirms a cortisone-like activity as well as insecticidal, bactericidal and immuno-stimulant activites. It is still considered a nonspecific immune system stimulant. There are over 300 pharmaceutical preparations made in Germany including extracts, salves and tinctures used for wounds, herpes, sores, canker sores and throat infections. It’s also a preventative for colds and flu. An old folk remedy claims success as a treatment for brown recluse spider bites, but it is not known how the plant was prepared for this remedy.

Edible Uses: Unknown

Medicinal Uses: Plants in this genus were probably the most frequently used of N. American Indian herbal remedies, though this species is considered to be less active than E. angustifolim. They had a very wide range of applications and many of these uses have been confirmed by modern science. The plant has a general stimulatory effect on the immune system and is widely used in modern herbal treatments. There has been some doubt over the ability of the body to absorb the medicinally active ingredients orally (intravenous injections being considered the only effective way to administer the plant), but recent research has demonstrated significant absorption from orally administered applications. In Germany over 200 pharmaceutical preparations are made from Echinacea. The roots and the whole plant are considered particularly beneficial in the treatment of sores, wounds, burns etc, possessing cortisone-like and antibacterial activity. The plant was used by N. American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects. An infusion of the plant was also used to treat snakebites.

The plant is adaptogen, alterative, antiseptic, depurative, diaphoretic, digestive, sialagogue. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Herbal Uses: Unknown

To Purchase This Beautiful Wildflower Visit Us At Our Website Ion Exchange, Inc.

Earthyman Responds to a Customers Question on Advice on Planting Butterfly Milkweed : Asclepias Tuberosa Seeds

Question:  Hi.  I recently received 6 packets from you of Butterfly milkweed.  Could you provide some advice on planting?  I have a small flower garden ( full sun,) as well as 15 acres of various prairie plants and grasses. Began as all  switchgrass but I am slowly planting more and more grasses and forbs. Thanks.  Stan

Butterfly Milkweed

Response: Stan, you may start the seeds indoors after you have moist stratified them. Place the seeds in a zip lock back mixed with moist vermiculite. Leave them in a refrigerator for 30 days. Remove and plant in open flats or small pots with sterile soil medium at a depth of 1/8th to 1/4th inch. They must receive considerable light and warmth to adequately develop. Once they have started to form the white root, they can be transplanted to your garden or field. Keep the competition down from weeds and other plants. They prefer well drained to excessively drained soils in full sun. They do well in rocky poor soils with maximum exposure to the sun and wind. If you want to do a dormant seeding, you may spread the seed now or anytime the ground is exposed. Make sure your seeds are not on frozen ground as they may wash away. Wait until the ground thaws and spread your seed but only lightly cover with a sprinkling of soil or compost no deeper than 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Nature can then freeze and thaw offering the best stratification. Once plants are mature, you must be very careful when you attempt to transplant as the roots are very massive and at least 90% of the roots should be dug with plant and immediately transplanted. You should start seeing blooms the second year and thereafter the plants will grow much stronger and have many blooms in the following years. If your plants, for some reason die or disappear the following year after planting, they are probably in a poorly adaptable site for this species.

Thanks,

Howard aka “Earthyman”

To Purchase Butterfly Milkweed Visit our Website at Ion Exchange, Inc.

Helping You Create Your Own Natural Beauty

Howard Bright
800-291-2143
1878 Old Mission Drive
Harpers Ferry, IA 52146

Ion Exchange, Inc Website

Enhance Your Bird Feeding Station with White Wild Indigo Article

Many bird-feeding stations are barren of cover for birds at your feeders.  You can solve this problem by providing instant cover with fully mature fall or winter-harvested stems of the White Wild Indigo.  When the plants mature and fall comes, the plants will go dormant leaving their study and durable stems erect with dried leaves and stems still in tack.  This makes for the perfect little bush that will give birds a secure place to land.

Just break the stems off at ground level.  Get a two or three gallon container.  Fill with any soil.  Insert the stems into the soil for a secure upright position of the stems.  You may want to put a heavy rock in the bottom of the container to keep the wind from blowing it over.  Place the pots near your feeders.  When the birds land in the branches of the White Wild Indigo, they can rest there and feel protected against predators.

Within minutes you will have more birds right next to your feeders feeling secure and safe.  This will enable you to stand much closer to your feeders and observe birds up close.

You can plant White Wild Indigo from seed and they will mature in two to three years or you could plant them as live plants and they will mature faster.  Seeds should be scarified with sand paper to thin the hard seed coating if planted in the spring and place in a plastic bag with moist sand or vermiculite.  After 10 days you may plant the seed.  If planted in the fall they will not need scarification.  They grow to about four to five feet in height and have beautiful white flowers up and down the sturdy stems in early to mid-summer.  As they mature, they will develop black seedpods, which are very attractive.  They are native from Canada to Southern Texas and Florida and throughout the central region of the U.S.  They will thrive in most soils.

Howard Bright, aka Earthyman

To Purchase White Wild Indigo Visit Our Website At Ion Exchange, Inc. Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants

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.

Garden Myths & Facts Article By Horticultural Professionals

Two horticultural professionals took some of the most popular garden myths into the university laboratory to prove or disprove the accuracy of these myths. Dr. Linda Chalked-Scott from Washington State University and Dr. Jeff Gilliam from the University of Minnesota tested these myths under controlled conditions to determine if they really work.

The Myth
For years we’ve been told that if we water plants on a hot sunny day the sun reflecting through the water droplets will burn the foliage.

The Facts

We are constantly being warned in books, magazines, and various websites that if we water on a sunny day we will burn the leaves. The premise behind this is the water drops that accumulate on the leaf surfaces act as tiny magnifying glasses, focusing the sun’s energy into intense beams that burn leaves. We’re told that since water conducts heat, wet leaf surfaces are more likely to burn than dry ones. This is one of those myths that refuse to die. Although most of the university web sites dispel this myth, hundreds of other web sites keep the misinformation alive.

If your plants are showing signs of water stress in the middle of the day, by all means you should water them!

Delaying irrigation until the evening (not a good time to water anyway, as this can encourage fungal diseases or the following morning could damage your plants and open them up to diseases.

There are many causes of leaf scorch, but irrigation with fresh water is certainly not one of them.

So remember:

Wet foliage is not susceptible to sunburn

Analyze site conditions to ensure optimal root and shoot health and prevent drought problems

Any time plants exhibit drought stress symptoms is the time to water them

Ideal watering time is in the early morning; watering during the day increases evaporative losses, and evening watering regimes can encourage establishment of some fungal diseases

Do not overuse fertilizers and pesticides, especially those containing sodium or other salts

If using recycled or gray water, consider running the water through a filtering system before applying it to plants.

The Myth

Using nursery tags is an accurate method to determine a plant’s final size.

The Facts

Fall is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. Selection can be a tricky practice, especially when site conditions limit size of plantings. Small landscapes require small-scale plantings.

At the nursery, one can be overwhelmed by the variety of deciduous trees and conifers, and even within a species there may be several cultivars from which to choose.

Without any prior knowledge of these plants, gardeners resort to nursery tags to determine mature heights and widths. Armed with this information, one can select those trees and shrubs whose size is appropriate to the site. But does this approach really work?

Many factors determine the mature size of any tree or shrub. The most obvious on plant size is genetic makeup – you only have to look at cultivar names like ‘Midget’ or ‘Giant Candles’ to understand this component.

Geographic location also plays a role in determining height. For instance, trees tend to grow taller in areas where temperatures are more moderate; trees in coastal areas are generally larger than these same species in more interior regions. Within a geographic area, local climate will further influence final size: rainfall and temperature can vary widely within a region. The microclimate of a site will influence tree size due to differences in environmental factors such as drainage, and soil type.

Competition for water, light, and nutrients, will affect not only growth rate but final height as well.

1.  Nursery tags most likely contain species information relevant to that nursery’s geographic location
2.  Genetics, geography, climate, and plant competition will all influence the maximum height any specimen will obtain
3.  To determine the most likely height range for a tree in your landscape, observe how that species performs elsewhere in your area
4.  If no local landscape specimens exist for a particular plant, look to the internet for plant performance information from similar climates elsewhere in the world.

The Myth

Landscape fabric provides permanent weed control for landscapes

The Facts

Concern over the use of herbicides has caused landscape professionals and gardeners to look closely at non-chemical methods of weed control. Mulches are increasing in popularity as weed control measures and have a number of additional benefits, including water retention and soil protection. Mulches may be organic, inorganic, or synthetic. Synthetic mulches, including geotextiles, are of interest to many consumers and professionals because they are perceived as nonbiodegradable, permanent solutions to weed control.

Developed for agricultural use, geotextiles have found their way into ornamental gardens as landscape fabrics. These fabrics, a vast improvement over the impermeable black plastics still (unfortunately) used for weed control, are woven in such a way that water and gas exchange can occur but light penetration is significantly reduced. Hence, they are effective in reducing weed seed germination in areas where soil disturbance would otherwise induce germination of weeds. Such fabrics have been so effective in reducing weeds in vegetable and ornamental crop production that they have been applied to more permanent landscape installations.

Like the dieter searching for a permanent weight loss pill, so we as gardeners continue to seek permanent weed control solutions. Unfortunately, there is no such permanent fix.

We must remain ever vigilant in our battle with weeds and cannot rely on a product to do this. The fact is that weed control fabrics are not permanent and will decompose, especially when exposed to sunlight.

For permanent landscapes, they are not a long term solution and in fact can hinder landscape plant health.

Some of these facts are listed below.

Any organic matter or soil on top of the fabrics will hasten their colonization by weeds; this precludes covering the fabric with anything but inoert mulch like pebbles. It also requires continual maintenance to keep the fabric free of debris. Weeds will eventually grow on top of and through these fabrics, making their removal difficult.
Geotextiles degrade in the landscape in as little as one year if unprotected from sunlight.
The aesthetic quality of landscape fabrics is minimal; it becomes worse as the materials begin to degrade.
Personally I had a situation where field bindweed grew some 25 feet under landscape fabric before emerging at the edge of the bed, seeking sunlight.

In closing, I expect some of you might disagree with some of these findings. However remember that this research was done in reputable university labs under controlled conditions. Each of us will draw our own conclusions.

Article Taken From Dave’s Garden Website
By Paul Rodman
October 29, 2012

To Purchase Your Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Our Website at Ion Exchange, Inc.

Email:  hbright@acegroup.cc

Phone:  800-291-2143

‘Prairie Therapy’ Soothes Psychiatrist, Autistic Son Article

When psychiatrist Elizabeth Reeve needs to unwind and recharge her mental batteries, she heads to the prairie.

Not the wild prairie, but the one she and her husband have painstakingly restored at their weekend home in southeastern Minnesota.

“It’s therapeutic — an opportunity to get outside and think in a different way,” she said.

She loves walking its five gently rolling acres and seeing what’s blooming and growing.

The prairie helps Reeve maintain the balance she needs to juggle a very full life. In addition to her practice, which focuses on autism and other developmental disabilities, she recently was named Minnesota’s Psychiatrist of the Year by her peers and published a book, a survival guide for kids with autism spectrum disorders and their parents.

It’s a subject Reeve knows not just clinically but personally, from raising an autistic son herself. Born during her residency, he’s now 24 and lives at home.

“Having a disabled adult child changes your perspective — it changes the whole plan,” Reeve said.

In a way, that changed plan helped lead Reeve’s family to the prairie. “We were looking for land to build on when we retired,” she said. “My son doesn’t drive. He has to live in an urban environment because he takes the bus. The long-term plan is he’ll have the house (in Minneapolis) and we’ll retire down here.”

Reeve and her husband, Mark Conway, alpine-ski-racing coach for the Minneapolis school district, were driving in the rural area when they saw a “for sale” sign. They liked the 1995-built house with its post-and-beam construction, and the 20 wooded acres surrounding it. The previous owner, who built the house, had already started a prairie restoration on what used to be a cornfield.

Reeve, an avid gardener, and Conway decided to buy the land and continue the restoration. Their work includes “burns,” torching the landscape to eliminate non-native plants. “The natives have deep roots; they’ll come back, but the noxious weeds are superficial,” Reeve said.

“You need a crew, so it doesn’t get out of control,” Reeve said. “The first year I was absolutely terrified. Afterwards it looked like a lava field.”

It was hard to imagine that the scorched earth would ever support life again. But before long, native plants began to reappear, denser and more vigorous than ever.

Last year, the couple did a second burn and Reeve took part, donning a firefighter’s suit, laying a “water line” around the perimeter, then using a flamethrower to ignite the landscape.

The two prairie burns have transformed their landscape dramatically, Reeve said. They now have 50 to 60 native species, including wildflowers, native grasses and medicinal plants.

“We’ve worked really hard to expand the diversity,” Reeve said.

She also harvests seeds, drying them and scattering them to produce more native prairie plants.

Reeve is fascinated by the variety of native species now thriving on their land. She points out a compass plant, so-named because it orients its leaves to point north-south, and a purple hyssop. “If you smell the leaves, they smell like licorice,” she said. When she finds a new one, she marks it with a little flag. “So in theory, I can find them again,” she said.

When Reeve isn’t tending the prairie, she’s tending their large garden.

“We don’t buy any vegetables,” she said. “There’s nothing better than out-of-the-garden fried red potatoes for breakfast.”

Does she ever, like, relax on weekends?

“This is relaxing,” she said with a smile.

Being outdoors in the natural world restores balance and well-being for their whole family, she said. Her adult son loves splitting wood. Her younger son, Luke, likes playing “Star Wars” on the prairie and helping reseed the native plants, sometimes both at the same time.

Kids, and in particular, kids with ADHD, benefit from being outside, doing physical things, Reeve said, rather than being inside playing with electronic devices all day. “Research shows that lack of (outdoor activity) decreases people’s creativity,” she said. “It’s not rocket science. People who get out and take a walk feel better than people sitting inside all day.”

Spending time in her prairie helped her write her book, she said, and she hopes to write a second. “I want to do a book for high-school students and young adults with autism — helping them live with it,” she said.

Even the drive back to workday reality, on rural roads vs. a crowded rush-hour freeway, is a relaxing transition, she said. “I’m absolutely fresher Monday after being here. It starts the whole week off completely differently.”

Article By Kim Palmer
Minneapolis Star Tribune

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