Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Prairies & Sleep Part Deux

Bee Balm is one prairie flower that attracts butterflies.

Thought I'd class up my blog a bit with some French phrases today. Bien? Oui. My return key isn't working on my laptop (I know exactly who to blame, merci) so bear with the spacing. Merde! Lots of response to yesterday's post and the prairie post a few days ago--I'm happy as a five-year-old-girl at a Disney Princess breakfast to expound on these topics.

Regarding the "Restless Leg Syndrome." According to readers of Ann Landers, putting a bar of soap (for heaven's sake, use hotel-sized bars!) between your fitted sheet and your mattress right where your hips hit the bed will alleviate that uncomfortable urge to kick and twitch. It's worked for me--I'm going on 10 years of sleeping without "Jimmy Legs." I've also put pieces of soap in my pants pockets on occasions when I'll be sitting for a long time (traveling on planes or in cars). This also takes the edge off.

Merci beaucoup, Domestically Challenged, I love my bed, too and it is Colonial in style. Blackbird, I'm flattered beyond mention at your remark.

The TV series Little House on the Prairie was not filmed in Wisconsin, in fact I don't know where it was filmed. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on the western side of Wisconsin and migrated to Minnesota and then to South Dakota--the Minnesota home would have been her prairie home.

You can plant native species in any size of plot--a lot of "butterfly gardens" are comprised of mostly prairie plants. With few alterations, you can have a drought-free garden that you'll never have to water once it's established. (Some butterfly garden plants include Bee Balm, Coneflowers, Asters, Verbena, False Indigo, Goldenrod and Black-Eyed Susan.)

We have ticks, too. I've picked them off of all my kids and myself. (Thank God Mr. G and Mr. B are summer blondes! makes tick-picking easier.) There's no way around it, really, but some seasons are worse than others.

When planting a prairie, site preparation is the most important part. You have to kill everything by burning, mowing, tilling, or chemically poisoning. We've done combinations (Montsanto's alfalfa seed is nearly impossible to destroy with tilling--their root system goes deep and is resistant to almost everything, including, I suspect, hydrogen bombs.) Once you've killed everything on the plot, you rake it/roll it/drag it until it's level and smooth. Then you "broadcast" the prairie seed either by hand or with a spreader like you'd use for lawn fertilizers. The seed must be mixed with an equal portion of sawdust or coffee grounds. (I went to a cabinet maker for my sawdust, he thought I was nuts when I asked for 10 gallons of sawdust off his floor. But he handed me a broom and a dust pan and didn't ask too many questions) Finally, you rake the seed into the ground and tamp it down by rolling or dragging. Your prairie must be kept moist for the first 2-3 weeks. Once the site has 6 inches of growth (old weeds popping up again), you mow it down to reduce competition with the prairie seedlings. A prairie planted by seed will take 2 years to bloom. Your job is to keep invasive species out and control the weeds by mowing. Eventually the prairie chokes out the weeds.

Our neighbors help us with this project and we repay them with beer and food. I know some government agencies, non profit organizations and colleges assist with prairie restoration, too.

Amazing fact: some sites can be burned and let go. Prairie seeds in the soil that have been dormant for up to a century can germinate once the non-native competition is eradicated and a prairie can grow on its own where it once thrived long ago. I'm sure there's a beautiful metaphor somewhere in this fact, but my computer is getting on my last nerve. Sacre bleu! Croissant! C'est la vie!


  1. The South Dakota home (De Smet, to be exact) was prairie also - we just read the books set there. The descriptions are heartbreakingly beautiful. It may be that the TV series was set in Plum Creek (Minnesota) however.

    Someday I'm going on a road trip and hitting all the Little House locales.

  2. AAhhhh - I was transported to the prairies - thank you!

    Maintainant, J'espere Je devoir une urge to sow wild fleur seeds dans le field....but peut-etre apres les moutons have partir.
    Merci beaucoup, c'est merveilleux, votre blogging!

    Excuse the franglais! ...and Thank you too for top tip for Hubby's Jimmy legs...I will report back!

  3. Oh I just love Bee Balm. Absolutely one of my top 5 favorite plants in my garden. (Other 4: foxgloves, lavender, zinnias, and conflower)

    I really want to know WHY the soap works so well. I just can't figure it out.

  4. Crepe Suzette! The tick mentions made me itchy.

  5. I like the idea of the prairie seeds springing to life makes me smile. I live in Wisconsin and love the prairie too.;) By the way, the French works for me.

  6. Stunning photo. Laura would've been my neighbor, I think. I once ran a nonprofit called Farm in the City . . . . I so love what you're doing. Every day I look at the smoke stacks where I live and wonder if we'd be better somewhere with -- space.


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