Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frost Seeding

Spring Greetings from Mother Nature:

I gave Iowa a perfectly average winter -- average temperatures; a few days below zero to kill off the weak; and average snowfall. Despite average, still lots of whiners. They should move south and let normal people enjoy what I am doing in Iowa this year.

Time to do a bit of frost seeding; I have been doing it for a few billion years and man has been doing for a few thousand years. The principle is pretty simple. I give you some warm days and cold nights. After most of the frost is out of the ground a warm day will make the soil wet and soggy. Drop a few seeds on the wet ground during the day when it is moist and expansive and overnight the soil will shrink a bit as it freezes (water is densest at 39 degrees). The cycle of freeze/thaw every day will work the seed into the soil and it will germinate when soil temp reaches the proper temp for that particular seed.

With my native grasses, we have been doing this for many thousands of years, maybe 100,000 years or so, but I tend to lose count of the years; I just enjoy the process now.

The train guys did a nice job of putting some seed down on Sunday on the bare soil they disturbed last year while fixing their railroad. They were very considerate harvesting my local ecotype seed; scratching the soil a bit; then carefully evenly distributing the seed. To top if off, they even rolled the ground lightly to ensure optimum seed/soil contact. Nothing happens without good contact and they did a nice job.

As a reward for that effort I decided to drop about two inches of snow overnight. This will provide some nice gentle moisture during the day. I have a few more nights of below freezing temps planned, so I think the process will work quite well. Hopefully, my birds will ignore this seed. I have lots of other seed available but they are in a mating frenzy -- but that is another story for another time.

Enjoy the warm days and cool nights of spring. Spring is some of my finest work.

Yours truly,

Mother Nature

P.S. I wanted to put the railroad pictures down here, but the train guy who types out what I tell him has not figured out how to do it. Just another problem for Mother Nature, but then I am not going to worry about it; I have other, bigger things to worry about.