East Center Valley 2001

[To see photos and stories of this prairie in other years, go to the links on the main East Center Valley page.]

East Center Valley was our first planting adventure.  (We also planted Pat’s Prairie and Pine Point Prairie that winter.)

We bought most of the seeds for this first restoration. I tried to get seeds that were from less than about 200 miles away. I got 79 species of forb seeds and 11 species of grasses. I estimated there would be about 33 seeds per square foot.

Since there was so much variation in the soil conditions of different areas of the fields, I made 3 different mixes for wet, dry and mesic areas.

We divided the fields into acre sized areas with small red flags stuck into the snow – here we are with our flags. (It was a very snowy winter, so almost all our work was done on snow shoes.)


Then we started planting. Each acre got either a wet, dry or mesic mix of seeds. First we planted all the grass seeds in all the acres. Then we went back and planted all the forb seeds. I mixed some of the forb seeds together, but others I kept separate, and we threw out random handfuls of them to try to mimic the patches of single species found in a natural prairie.

Here we are throwing out our very first handfuls of seeds. (Mike quickly discarded the spoon and went to throwing out the seeds with his hand.)

We planted the grass seeds in this area – the 4 acres in East Center Valley Prairie – the first day. The snow was deep, but smooth and clean – it was easy to see where we’d been. My only concern was that it was fairly windy, and sometimes the seeds would go scooting across the top of the snow. I was afraid all the seeds would blow away.  We finally stopped when the wind got so strong that the seeds were all ending up on the driveway.


The fields were mowed twice during the summer of 2001, the first time in early June, and the second time in early/mid August.  Taken from East Center Valley, looking across to Pat’s Prairie

summer 2001 mowing center valley prairies


Pat’s Prairie – looking across to East Center Valley.  A little tractor problem.

summer 2001 mowing 1


By the end of August it was clear that the weeds were going to go to seed no matter how short the plants were. By the end of the summer the fields were full of weeds and weed seeds – discouraging.

But some of the seeds that we planted did bloom:

Sky-blue Aster (Aster oolentangensis)
Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)
Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis)
Oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens)
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

We repaired the driveway and leveled a site for our house during the summer, and the work was finished by mid-November. They did a good job of not destroying our planted areas. I did a little wetland repair seeding along a ditch they made near the south end of East Center Valley. And I seeded some seeds of aggressive prairie plants along the driveway where the trucks had made turn around spots.