Catch'n Up

Well, haven't posted in a while, so here's what's been goin' on:

We finished seeding the Urban Greenway! The upland sites are seeded with a stock mix of native prairie grasses, the lowland sites with lowland switchgrass, and the sides of the trail with a native turf called buffalo grass. Of course, there's plenty of areas in the greenway that still need to be worked on, but we got done what we could before the planting window closed. The first area we seeded is germinating well, with plants coming up about every foot or so, which is the spacing you want them to be at so they come in thick but don't crowd each other out. We've gotten plenty of rain (for Oklahoma anyway) so that should help.

My only worry is that we haven't seen any plants come up in areas that were covered in grass-cutting thatch, which we were trying to remove when we prepared the sites for seeding. These open patches could provide a corridor for invasives like Johnston grass or bermuda grass, and if they do, its on the people who prepped the site (thats us). It seems Justin and I got better as we went on, so hopefully subsequent sites will have less of these patches. As a positive, open areas do provide some habitat variability, and might make a good place to plant wildflowers when John's ready to introduce that component into the system. John said we should see some decent sized plants come up before the end of the summer, so we'll know whether we rocked them native prairies before we leave in August.

The wetland planting design project is almost finished, with Justin and I spending most of this week indoors working on finalizing a plant list and laying where we're going to plant what. Its a mix between restoration, gardening and landscaping, which makes it both challenging and interesting. In addition to trying to figure out whether a plant is native to our area of Oklahoma and whether or not it will survive where we put it, there's also non-ecological considerations like plant height and trying to plant short things toward the trail, with taller and taller things toward the back of the pond and the wet meadow. This is because if you plant something tall right in front of the pond, nobody on the trail will ever see the pond!

We also have had a run-in with the dreaded government red tape: it seems that when you buy something (such as plants and seed in our case) you have to find at least two suppliers to show that you shopped around. You don't have to actually buy from both, just provide two suppliers. We had originally just gotten prices from one nursery in Missouri, which seemed to have almost everything we asked for. We're going with mostly plugs and plants rather than seeds because its too late in the season to plant most seeds, because its difficult to get seeds established out in the field, and because when the Botany Club and I tried to plant wildflower seeds at William and Mary it didn't seem to go too well (thats right, I admit it). I get the feeling that as a rule of thumb, you shouldn't plant wetland seeds that are smaller than a pistachio. Maybe someday I'll test that.

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