Soil Secrets
And Mycorrhizal Mysteries!
Well, it was inevitable, but we just received a few inches of that white stuff that is such a part of our hearty Minnesota social fabric. Yes, winter will be soon upon us. In the cities, it was a pretty wet and heavy snow, enough so that our taller prairie plants started to tilt and lean from the weight of the snow. Peering into our natural buffers and prairie patches, we began to notice small patches of bare ground – yes exposed soil! Of course, in the summer, a diversity of robust prairie and shoreland species steal the spotlight, being the main actors on the stage of a healthy restoration. They totally blanket the soil layer, and “out of sight, out of mind.” But this time of year, if you look a little closer, you see the soil base – the foundation that all restorations are built upon.
We rarely even consider it, but soil is actually alive! So what really makes up soil? Soil is a mixture of decomposing organic matter, minerals, water, void spaces for gases like oxygen, living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, insects, and even tiny plants. It changes and evolves over time. It’s super easy to forget, but soil is so much more than just bits of rock, sand, and clay.

Insect of the Month
Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee
(Agapostemon virescens)

This brightly colored native bee is active from April to October and is widely distributed across the United States but less so in the southwest. It has a bright metallic green thorax and a whitish-yellow and black striped abdomen. These bees are often seen foraging on a variety of native flowers for nectar and pollen including milkweed species, New England aster, lance-leaved tickseed, pale purple coneflower, oxeye, goldenrod species, blazing star species, foxglove beardtongue, purple prairie clover, and many others!
Retail Nursery:
Thank You All for an Amazing Year!

Our retail nursery and online ordering are closed for the season. Thank you so much for visiting us this year and we hope to see you back again in 2021!

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Non-native Species of the Month Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa)-

Also known as winter vetch, this weedy legume from Europe was introduced as a forage crop and has since spread to form dense populations in disturbed areas like our fields and roadsides. It prefers full sun and sandy soils. It can grow up to three feet long and stems can entangle themselves into thick clumps that shade out native species. Stems and leaves are very hairy and the compound leaves have 8 to 12 leaflets. Their pea-shaped flowers are purple and pink and form into 2 inch long pea pods. Management strategies include hand pulling and herbicide treatments.
Native Plant of the Month-
Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)

 A warm season legume, purple prairie clover is slow to develop and indifferent to soil types because it can fix nitrogen and handle poor soils. It is similar to white prairie clover (Dalea candida) except the leaves of the former are smaller, darker green and the flowers are purple. It is also more common than the white prairie clover. Moderately drought tolerant, this is a slender prairie plant growing from a stout, deep, long taproot. Their flower heads are cylindrical and packed with purple flowers. Its seeds are frequently included in seed mixes for prairie restoration and re-vegetation, and is useful for erosion control because of its deep fibrous roots, which can help anchor soil. It can most often be found in dry to mesic prairies, along railroads, and open woods.  Pollinated by bees and beetles, purple prairie clover is also valuable as forage for cattle and wildlife.. Native Americans used various parts of the plant for food and medicine. 
We love to read books about our natural world, and want to share our favorites with you! On the last Wednesday of each month we will feature a book discussion and review on our Facebook Page.
Here are next three!
Five Plants For- Adding Purple!
There are so many purple native plants to chose from, here are a few of our favorites that will add a pop of purple color!
Forager Fix
Burdock root is used frequently in Japanese cuisine, and can be pickled, stir-fried, or boiled for delicious results. The sweet, mild roots of first-year rosettes can be harvested any time of year, and should be scrubbed and peeled prior to use. Thick slices make a great addition to hearty soups, or cut into matchsticks and saute with other vegetables.
Autumn Monarda
Natural Shore Technologies, Inc. |