Prairie Parcel Restoration

Starting the Restoration

In this section, I will address some of the factors to consider before you actually begin your prairie restoration.

The best time to start your prairie restoration is mid-spring (mid April through May). You should aim for planting around the first or second week in May. The soil needs to be warm for prairie seeds to germinate. Thinking of the prairie plants as a summer garden crop, for those of you that plant gardens annually, may give you a better perspective on all of this. Also, working the soil in mid to late spring will help eliminate the early "weed" plants that have already started to grow.

Planning the Restoration

This is where you have some options to think about. Do you want to plant an area utilizing a small workforce, yourself and a few others, or do you want to involve as many people or students as possible?

My suggestion is to involve as many people as possible. Working the soil and planting are "fun" and rewarding experiences for everyone involved, and even more it establishes that all important "ownership" to the project and all that's involved with it. The value of this individual ownership to the project is a valuable component and should not be ignored.

When my school started its restoration, we were fortunate to have enough space to actually designate a square meter of area for every seventh grader in the school, approximately 300 students.

It was easy enough to mark off the square meters using meter sticks and string. We then prepared and planted the individual parcels working from one end of the site to the other, so as not to disturb the previously planted sections. One class period of 40 minutes was more than enough time for measuring off, preparing the soil, and planting of the seeds. (This was done by seventh graders; younger students may require more time.)

I also allowed my students to make temporary markers to identify their parcels for future study. This worked out much better than I had anticipated because the students took a "personal" interest in each of their sections. This helped greatly with future identification activities and other data taking. A major side benefit was the fact that because of the perceived ownership of the parcel, the students themselves vigorously and diligently monitored their areas and quickly and enthusiastically reported any new changes, disturbances or trespassing that occurred by other students. They will tell you when things are happening and even get on you if it looks like their plants need watering or such.

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