The Christopher Farm & Gardens 3 acre Prairie Restoration Area was delineated in the Spring of 2018. With well over a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, we are excited to focus on this natural area's restoration and protection. Map showing 3 acre restoration area.
Prairie restoration requires patience and an initial investment towards land preparation and seeding. We selected 3 acres along the Lake Michigan bluff that were previously used as a buffer and farm land. Tilling the ground and killing overtaking invasive species is the first step, and the most important for successful habitat restoration. Our native seed mix is hand harvested from native prairie plants, and we want to give those seeds the most optimal ground to thrive in as we rebuild a native seed bank.
- Spring 2018: mark off area for restoration and spray emerging weeds, particularly Canada Thistle, as tilling will not kill this thistle.
- Summer 2018: Shallow till (3 to 4") every 2 to 3 weeks when new weeds emerge. Important to continue to till to prevent rhizomous invasive plants from establishing.
- Late Fall 2018: Final preparation of field for planting. Hand spread native plant mix.
- Spring/Summer 2019 (First Growing Season): Allow prairie seeds to grow. First year maintenance is mostly mowing, approximately every 3 to 4 weeks. Mow at 6 inches when reaching 12 inch plant height. The keeps weeds from seeding and allows sunlight to reach plants. Hand weeding aggressive invasive species such as thistle and knapweed.
- Spring/Summer 2020 (Second Growing Season): This is the "Rudbeckia Stage", as annual plants dominate coverage. Mow short in spring and rake of the cuttings. Manage biennial weeds such as sweet clover. Mow up to a couple times in summer to prevent weeds from seeding.
- Spring 2021 (Third Growing Season): Prescribed controlled burn, before new growth reaches 12 inches. Careful hand weeding and spot spraying weeds.