02 March 2021

Winter planting

Yes, you can sow seeds on top of snow.

The photo above is the second in a sequence posted by Marcie O'Connor on her incomparable blog Prairie Haven.  I first wrote about her blog back in 2009 -
Prairie Haven is a blog describing the process of "unfarming" - helping restore a conventional rural farm return to its natural, "wild," state. It's not a laissez-faire process of benign neglect; instead it entails lots of hard work with controlled burns and eradication on nonnative invasive plants.

The blog is presented as a journal, stretching back for nine years (!) [now 21 years!!!], with supplemental categories documenting the flora and fauna that have appeared during the restoration process. Photographs are large-format and professionally composed and edited. More importantly, the accompanying text, while brief, shows a deep and broad knowledge of the natural world. 
- and then in 2015 I described a memorable walk down her driveway during a butterfly census.  This week I visited the blog again to read the latest post, and while browsing the manifold richness of material there, I saw her post about restoring Buffalo Ridge Prairie.  Here is the baseline photo (from 2001) when the previous owner had planted it in soybeans:

This is a 20-acre field on a hilltop in the center of their property in the Driftless Area. After the soybeans and corn stubble had been removed by mowing and glyphosate, the former prairie was reseeded with native plants in 2004/5 - " There was lots of snow that winter, so I did most of the planting on snowshoes" (top photo).

Here's the result, in July of 2009, when the restored prairie was 4 years old.


Prairie Haven has a 21-year compilation of information on prairie restoration, moths, butterflies, raising silkmoths, spiders, mosses, lichens etc.  It rewards deep exploration.


  1. Thank you so much for this blog, over the years it has been a fountain of interesting facts, pictures and background stories. I bet there are a lot more people like me, not commenting but very much appreciating your time and effort in making this blog.

    1. Thank you so much, Erik. And I think you're correct - that the readers who visit this blog silently probably outnumber those who write comments by a factor of 10-to-1. Always glad to hear from a "lurker."

  2. Lol, "Glyphosate" = Monsanto's Roundup. Whadda way to be a real naturalist!

    1. ??why lol?? Absolutely glyphosate/Roundup. When you need to get rid of plants, nothing works better AFAIK. I have used it on invasive plants after cutting the stem you dab it on the cut end to kill the plant to the roots. Using Roundup properly is not inconsistent with loving the natural world

    2. As stated, when used properly, glyphosate is effective and widely used by caretakers of our natural world.

      Glyphosate fact sheet: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html

      Also, there is more to Roundup than glyphosate.

      And there is this:

      From FĂ©lix Carvalho, a toxicologist at Portugal’s University of Porto and secretary general of the European organization Eurotox...

      “People must be aware that if they want to eliminate glyphosate there are two options: Either there is a new herbicide coming to replace glyphosate, and new does not mean better, because for this one we have forty years of experience,” he says.

      “Or, we’re turning agriculture into an organic type of agriculture, which is okay. But the yields of that organic agriculture may not be sufficient to feed populations. I don’t know.”

      Source: https://thecounter.org/glyphosate-safety-debate/


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