Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mild Meanderings over our Prairie

Prairie Grasses and Tall Cinquefoil

My husband continues to work hard at establishing, maintaining and appreciating our 30+ acre prairie. Abutting the prairie are a number of acres of woodland forest (oaks, walnuts, etc.) He actually spends a lot of time in both areas. He plants many tree saplings every Spring in and around the forest areas. And he has some pretty impressive prairie burns in the early Spring.

I've displayed a few photos from the March 18, 2007 prairie burn.

They began in the SE corner. Some people were on the east side and others were on the west, both sides burning diagonally until the fire reached the NW corner. The wind was from the northwest, which means that the fire crept into the wind.

Each of the men involved has had a lot of experience with prairie fires. As you can see, it worked out perfectly. One person on each side carried a drip (fire) torch. They each carried water backpacks with a sprayer attachment to curtail fire that might creep "out of bounds." In the end... any smoking area was sprayed, "just to be safe."

Now I'll show you some of the grasses and flowers that were given a boost due to the fires. They are within the same areas that were burned in March.
Gray Coneflower and Common Milkweed

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Gaillardia grandiflora amongst goldenrod and wild parsnip

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) close-up of Black-Eyed Susan

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) Wild Rose

Isn't it wonderful? Nothing shady here except me, I guess. :-)


Andrea Dellit said...

so pardon my inexperience in prairie fires....what is the reason that you would have the fire??

Shady Gardener said...

Ah... First of all, it's to get rid of all the old "duff" which is a term for the dead plant material left from the year(s) prior from native prairie plants as well as non-native plants (which would inhibits new growth).

Burn of the "duff" also releases potash and potassium into the soil. It eliminates the possible soil deposit of nitrogen from some plants, but I gather nitrogen can be absorbed by plants through the air (something I just learned).

It also eliminates invasive brush and trees where you don't want them.

If you do any wildflower "overseeding," which is what I think was done after the burn to a small extent, it allows those seeds a better chance to grow.

That's all I can think of and find. You are not to burn the same area in consecutive years... but wait about 3 years, I think, before you might do it again. I believe it's too hard on the prairie to have this happen often. It also helps the native wildlife escape the fire.
I'm putting a link on the sidebar.
Good question - it's interesting, don't you think?

Andrea Dellit said...

Very, very interesting! I never would have thought of that! What pretty flowers!