Owen Wormser

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since Jun 21, 2020
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Recent posts by Owen Wormser

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Carol Broadribb wrote:Lawn. Ugh. We suffer with voracious mosquitoes all summer. If we leave the lawn uncut I fear it would be even worse. I have been slowly encouraging the clover and a little purple flower I call creeping Jenny to crowd out the grass. Other ideas?

Actually, quite the opposite: We used to have more mosquitoes but since I have resisted mowing the lawn, we have more pollinators and more birds: That is important to keep the mosquito population down.
The way that mosquitoes populate is by finding a body of water. It can be as small as a saucer, a small pail: Any area where there will be water for 3 days will do.
So after a rain, look around for saucers under pots, plastic containers... anything. Turn it over and empty it. If you have a pond nearby, invite purple martins or other mosquito eaters.
If you have a birdbath, you might want to install a cheap little pump to keep the water trembling.
The clover and the creeping Jenny are much better than blades of grass, but for the mosquitoes, bring in the birds!

Well said. This advice for mosquitos and any other pest problem is excellent. If you have pests, focus on supporting their predators and they will eat most of them! For instance one bat can eat thousands of mosquitos in just one night.  
5 months ago

Zeph Mullins wrote:Hi Owen, we are in Zone 8 Southeast Texas with roughly 45+ inches of rain per year and heavy soils. Historically my area was coastal prairie and though the years trees from timber industry or otherwise imported have taken place of this. I have been interested in planting more "useful" trees in my landscape but after learning the historical information of my specific bioregion I am interested in stacking the functions of prairie/meadow into my design potentials as well. I want to get started on identifying species (besides sedges and bahia) and hope to receive your book What other resources would you suggest to look into?

I would talk to native plant nurseries and/or native seed suppliers in your area or region and ask them what books they recommend for ID and for historical perspective related to the ecology of SE Texas.  That information is too specific for me to point you to the right resources but usually plant people who are immersed in that world already are happy to pass along information like this. This holds true for people in any region and much of the knowledge I've gleaned over the years is through similar avenues.  Good luck.  
5 months ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:We have winners!!!

Eliot Mason
John Suavecito
Clayton High
Julie Reed

We'll be sending the publisher your email addresses--so please keep an eye out in your inboxes for when they contact you!

Bit thanks to Owen for sharing his knowledge with us this week! If you're bummed that you didn't win the book, you can buy it HERE![/quote

Congratulations to the winners.  I've enjoyed commenting here and I hope my input was helpful.  I really appreciate the resource permies.com offers the global community. Ultimately, humanity can create abundance wherever they go, not just scarcity, especially in their interactions with the earth and the natural world.... The permaculture community understands this possibility and hopefully that perspective spreads because this planet wants to be – and is – abundant. Meadows are a simple way to create that abundance, as well as beauty and ecological health, and all without much effort.  Here's to more landscapes like that!

5 months ago

Noel Young wrote:How do you define a meadow versus a relatively unmanaged grassy area? We chop our field probably 1-2× a year. It's full of grasses, yarrow, clover, dandilion, plantains etc. Is there a management strategy for meadows or fields gone fallow for years?

Really a meadow is any area that is dominated by grasses and flowering forbs.  The field you describe qualifies as a meadow...

And to manage old fields, mowing once a year is important. Other than that, the management strategy depends on what your design goals are.  If you want to get lots more flowering plants then it might be worth considering tilling it under and panting anew from seed.  Or you could scatter seed and/or drill seed into the existing field and hope some of those seeds take supplement what's already there.  And even just mowing over time will allow certain meadow species to establish and prosper.
5 months ago

Brian Kidd wrote:Thank you for your reply.

In the past, I have tried to do what you have suggested, and have even gotten some relatives interested in plants that are beneficial to butterflies and bees.

I suppose one continuing difficulty is that some friends and relatives just do not think of these plants as aesthetically-pleasing.

Sometimes there's nothing you can do about what people think looks good! But at the same time, people do change over time; never underestimate the power of education and piquing people's curiosity like you did with your relatives regarding bees and butterflies. I often try to rope people in with interesting facts about plants, eg. that hummingbirds line their nests with fuzz gathered from the stems of cinnamon ferns. That sort of thing often gets in there.... You'd be surprised how little bits can add up because people's opinions typically change incrementally, and then one day, they might 'suddenly' be open to the idea of something less conventional then a sterile landscape with grass and gumdrop shrubs.
5 months ago
There are plants that can thrive in such conditions. They wouldn't be meadow plants of course, because meadows require half a day of direct sun but that doesn't mean you still can't get beautiful plants growing.  The trick is to match plants to your site's conditions, i.e. ones that prefer shady, acidic, conditions.  For instance there are ferns that would thrive there.
5 months ago
The preparation process itself would probably be similar but you are dealing with other requirements, like keeping your herd fed, and so that bottom line would have to drive the logistics if you were to do that. For instance you could focus on converting a a few acres at a time.  

But more importantly, based on your circumstances, it might not be possible to have both the regular grazing and a fully functional meadow. For a meadow's regenerative capacity to take full effect, it has to at least be grazed rotationally so it can flower and go to seed. Rotational grazing also allows meadow plants' roots to grow deeper, making them more resilient while sequestering more carbon and building healthier soil.
5 months ago
Brian,  This is undoubtedly a tricky thing. Strangely this can be the hardest part of growing a meadow or anything other than a lawn and conventional landscaping. Certainly focusing on education can be helpful because for so many people this topic is alien territory.  However, one thing people are generally receptive to is obvious, hit-you-between-the-eyes beauty, and while beauty is subjective, there are undoubtedly some plants that are more likely to be seen as beautiful.  Flowers can help dazzle people and if your 'weeds' do that, they are likely going to win over some people. Texture is another consideration and I usually try to design for and considering these details carefully can go a long way towards creating an aesthetic that will win people over more easily.  
5 months ago
One of the primary culprits of allergy-inducing pollen is ragweed and a healthy and ecologically stable meadow generally won't harbor ragweed because ragweed likes to grow on disturbed land. It's also worth mentioning that the effect of ragweed is often conflated with the goldenrod because they flower at the same time later in the summer and early fall.

That said, it would be interesting to try identify when your allergies flare up and what plant species are flowering at those times. The airborne pollen that causes allergies rarely originates from meadow plants because most of them (goldenrod included) rely on bees and other pollinators as a means to transport pollen from one flower to the next, not the wind. This means meadow plant's pollen is often too heavy to be transported any distance in the air.  
5 months ago
It can be difficult to get seed to establish in existing lawn, and while it is doable, it can be tricky. Foot traffic from dogs can compound that even more. One option is to plant landscape plugs into your lawn. Plugs usually come in trays of 38-50 plants and essentially are baby perennials. If you can't find them locally, a number of nurseries you can find online will mail them to you.

The advantage of using plugs is that they can potentially compete against the existing grass and withstand an occasional paw. You can plant them right into the grass but the less competition the better so you might want to consider eliminating the grass beforehand. Either way, loosen the soil some around each plug when you plant them so their roots can start growing more readily and then don't let them dry out until they're established.  Also, if you can keep them from getting shaded out by any lawn grass as it grows, that helps enormously.

If you were to take these steps, and the species you choose match the conditions of your site, the results using landscape plugs can be relatively fast; you can even have meadow plants flowering in your first season. Once the meadow plants establish you can then let the grass grow up because the species you planted from plugs will be able to hold their own.
5 months ago