By Jim Alwill
Jim Alwill – prairie plant propagator
I grew lead plant in pots in two months.
I planted 100 lead plant in one hour on a sand hill in Bureau County, IL. 100% survival. Planting in rows and patches makes it easy to collect by hand, and I create habitat by replacing brome grass sod that won’t go away easily.
Spidorwort, Tradescantia ohiensis. I have been planting in sand the last three summers in early September with great success. The key is to have plants with good roots that were gown in full sun. Give the plugs in their growing flats just enough water to survive the next couple of hot days. I purposely let the flats go dry and the plants start to go limp, and then I water them in the last hour of daylight.
Post hole digger for the bigger plugs
Before image while planting
After planting. Should be able to collect seeds next fall from these plants.
Polyacrylamide was used on some plugs. Wet the product in a bucket of water, then take a handful of the wet polyacrylamide and funnel it into the premade hole by hand. Adding this product gives a couple of field days reprieve till I can come back and water again. A one inch rainfall means I can stop watering for a week. I look at weather forecasts for possible thunder storm front coming and then make a made dash to plant several hundred plugs.
Showy goldenrod, Solidago speciosa, loves sand as do bumble bees.
Summer 2020 plants. I produced 10,000 plugs.
Polyacrylamide in water. I have a farm wagon with a 500 gallon tank of water that I can fill 5 gallon buckets with and then fill a 2 gallon watering can to hand water the planted plugs at the last hour of the day. This allows the water to soak in overnight and not evaporate the same day. The trick is to find the plants again to water. If the area is mowed short, I can find the plants again to give them another drink.
I mowed paths first and then made divot holes with a home made divet bar. This is a 4 way wood splitting head welded to a pipe and then a pipe handle. I think I got 98 % survival overall, and I really didn’t break a sweat.
I have been working my 10 acre sand hill for the last 20 years and have thrown down tons of forb seed with poor results overall. Little bluestem will grow very well in sand. The forbs don’t seem to get past the brome.
I just learned about the grass herbicide Intensity herbicide three yrs ago. My intention is to switch to more herbicide ( intensity) and try more seed.
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