Typically in January, after the chill of winter has settled into my bones, I’ll find myself dreaming of springtime on the prairie - the warm touch of the sun, the joyous sounds of birds and insects, and the intricate lovely flowers of spring-time bloomers such as prairie and bird’s foot violet, blue-eyed grass, yellow star grass and violet wood sorrel.
The irony is, I’ll spend more time “experiencing” the spring prairie in my wintertime dreams than actually experiencing it in person. Yes, I’m on the prairie a lot doing this and that, but rarely do I allow more time than a passing glance at my favorite springtime flowers for fear of losing cadence with the marching drum beat of completing my land-care activities.
Recognizing both my task-driven personality and my love for the “little-guy” flowers of spring, it was clear I needed a method of collecting seeds on the fly that did not require precise synchronization with the plant’s natural seed dispersal timing.
My tools of choice for collecting seeds of the little guys include disposable foot socks (light, stretchable Nylon), twist ties and flagging tape. I keep a stash in my back pants’ pocket so it’s available when I need it.
Any time after the seed pod has formed, the foot sock can be installed. I invert the foot sock over my right hand, gently grasp the seed pod(s) with my sock-covered hand, pull the sock over the pods and stems with my free hand, and then install a twist tie encircling the sock opening and stems, careful not to crush or damage the plant. The last step is to install flagging tape nearby so I know where to look later in the season. Be sure to install the flagging tape well above the ground as plant vegetation will be much higher when you come calling for your seed bounty.
This system has worked very well for me, and I have been able to establish more patches of prairie spring flora throughout our property.
After years of collecting and dispersing little-guy seed, I’m not any better at slowing down and “experiencing” the prairie, but I get a lot more glancing looks at my favorite springtime flowers.