Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seeds for the new year

This afternoon, I took lunch out to James, who's working on our land northwest of town. After our peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, I ventured off alone and hiked some deer trails. Along the way, I picked three species of grass seed. I would LOVE to establish some native stands in our Wildscape. I also picked up some possumhaw berries in hopes of planting some of those, too. I tried last year with no luck. So I'm just gonna try again!

I've got my copy of Grasses of the Texas Hill Country in my lap (by Brian and Shirley Loflin), trying to ID the three species. I'm guessing the two "sideways" seedheads are a grama species (blue or tall). The long single seedhead may be Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri). Hope so! The delicate, wispy seedheads came from seep muhly (Muhlenbergia reverchonii). 

On that note, last weekend I clipped a newspaper article, "150,000 seed balls bound for Bastrop," written by reporter Claire Osborn with the Austin American-Statesman.

"The seeds are from more than 50 varieties of plants found in the Bastrop area, such as little bluestem, black-eyed Susan and Indian blanket. Each ball has nine or 10 seeds and should grow with a little water," the article states. "They will be available to Bastrop residents whose land was damaged by the fires."

Members of the Capital Area Master Naturalists sponsored the project. According to the Statesman, "150,000 marble-size balls of clay, compost and native plant seeds were put together by about 300 groups of children at schools, churches and youth groups in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Milam and Bell counties."

The group raised $1,800 to buy compost, clay and a special seed mix from my friends, Bill and Jan Neiman, at the Native American Seed Co. in Junction. What a wonderful project!!


Steph@RamblingWren said...

Sheryl - I just came across an article in Guidepost featuring you and James. It was so sweet. I hope 2012 brings you much happiness and joy.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Hey, thank you! That's cool that you found it. I had another article in the November 2010 issue about my son and me. Happy new year to you, too!!!!

Marilyn Kircus said...

That seed ball project was a wonderful one. And we have the chance to help people learn to appreciate native plants for yard landscaping which will in turn help many native plants and animals continue to exist.

And did you know that, just as clumping grasses begin to grow, you can divide the clump into four or more divisions and make new clumps?

You can do this by cutting the clump back to 6 - 10 inches tall - easiest way is to run a piece of duct tape around the plant just above where you want to cut and then cut with shears, clippers, or string trimmer. You will have a bundle of grass to mulch up and won't have to spend time gathering up all the individual pieces.

Then dig the clump up and drive two spading forks, or a fork and a shovel, back to back into the middle of the clump. Then use the handles to pry the clump apart. Pull the handles towards each other to pry the bottoms of each tool apart. Then go the other way to complete the division. Repeat with each division to make 4 total plants. You can also keep dividing down to individual culms. But I would pot these tiny divisions up for at least a few months, until they have several more stems.

You can use many ways to divide the grasses including using a big, heavy knife, a saw or hooks. Soaking the clump in water is also helpful if you are dealing with a heavy clay soil. It would be a wonderful thing if everyone in central Texas divided their native grasses and made cuttings of their woody plants - best this summer - to donate to people in the Bastrop Fire Zone.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Wow, THANK YOU, Marilyn, for some great information! I wonder if there's a "wish list" of native plants for the Bastrop area.

Marilyn Kircus said...

Lady Bird Johnson has a great resource, Explore Plants where plants are recommended for individual states. Texas is divided into several areas. Central Texas will work for Bastrop.

And you could build a better list by finding plants that occur on BOTH the central Texas List and the East Texas List.

You probably should also make sure the plant is not likely to be eaten by deer or it may be eaten the first night it gets planted.

For times and other tips for individual plants, I always use Jill Nokes book, How to Propagate Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest. That was always my Bible when I was growing any kind of native in Texas.

And an addendum to my previous comment. - Be sure to dig the grass clump as deep as you can manage to keep as long a root as possible. May require you to use a sharpshooter and water the plant with a drip for several hours before going through the clay.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Thanks so much again. I need to get my own copy of Jill's classic!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

P.S. Marilyn, I ordered my copy of Jill's book last night! :-)

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