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A good time to grow

August 12, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

The section of land where we live has many, many acres of native prairie grasses. It has always been used for pasture. This year, in particular, with all of the rain we have been receiving, the grasses are out-performing themselves. The cattle and sheep are very happy, too. The rain brings good things to the land but there are some plants that like it sort of dry. The wildflowers that grow along the ditches and in our pastures are one of them, with one exception.

Three years ago, we decided to put back what we took apart for the purpose of a vegetable garden. During our hot, dry July and August months, not much would grow in this particular area of the vegetable garden. It was too hot, too dry and too sandy to grow vegetables in this spot properly.

We decided to purchase a mix of wildflowers and grasses that we would normally find in our little nook of the world that seems to grow things like Little Bluestem, Big Bluestem, Prairie coneflowers and Prairie smoke. We thought at first, it was going to be a disaster. It was all pretty scraggly looking that first and second year.

However, I had always been told and had learned that when starting up a little native planting, that it will take the patience of Job in order to get to where you were going and not to expect things to happen over night like we have come to expect with our other flowers and grasses.

We purchased seed from a very knowledgeable group and we have been waiting ever since-until this year. The flowers and grasses finally have shown their long awaited presence. Sure, we do have a few weeds in this little plot but this is normal and they are actually quite easy to get rid of. The problem is that the grasses and flowers have grown so densely in this area that it is difficult to go in and pull a few weeds. Given this, and the fact that the flowers are buzzing with bees and other insects, it is a little intimidating to disturb the scene.

The plants that we have growing in this little plot are many: nodding onions, gray headed coneflower, black eyed susans and blanket flowers. We also have some grasses that have shown up this year as well. There are a few Little Bluestems but more of the side oats grama, sedges, Buffalo grass and Prairie dropseed.

These plants match the plants that we pick from our roadside when we go for a walk. We particularly have a lot of nodding onions and purple coneflowers along with the wild roses in our roadsides. This little garden brings more of the native plants that we see everyday just a little bit closer to home, in particular for the kids.

The rain has helped the plants out this year to finally getting the little plot to get going and growing.

The other native plants that I have been growing alongside my "regular" perennials have also taken to doing very well this growing season. It is about this time of the year when the "regular" perennials take nap to escape the heat while the native plants start to take off with their show of colors.

For more information about gardening, you can reach me at



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