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 03-01-2001, 15:42 Post: 24871
Stephen Kasten



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

I am interested in preparing a 1-acre field for planting wildflowers. It has never been plowed. What hp/weight compact tractor would be good for plowing and tilling this field? The work doesn't need to be done quickly. I have been looking at a JD4400 and NHTC35D. Can I go smaller? (I would also like to use the tractor for 60" belly mowing.) Also, what kind/size of plow and tiller would be recommended?






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 03-01-2001, 16:33 Post: 24876
JeffM



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Stephen, if you search through the archives there were some good posts in the past few months about preparing ground for gardens, lawns, etc., which is basically what you want to do. My opinion is that if you can get by with a smaller tractor, you can then use the money you save to buy more or better implements! A 25 hp tractor will work nicely for a 60" belly mower. A rototiller is an expensive implement if you are only going to use it once, might be better off trying to rent one. Others on this board have a lot of experience with subsoilers, plows, and other groundbreaking implements of destruction, so I'll leave that discussion to them.






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 03-01-2001, 16:52 Post: 24879
Bird Senter

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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Stephen, yes, you can go smaller; a 20-25hp tractor will do for a 60" mower, and personally, to prepare a planting area, I'd prefer plowing it first with a 12" or 14" moldboard (turning plow), then go over it with a tiller. There are a lot of good brands of tillers; I use a Bush Hog myself. Preferably get one wide enough to cover your rear tracks, although that isn't necessary if you get one that can be offset to one side and just cover the tracks on that side.






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 03-04-2001, 08:12 Post: 24985
PLK



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Not to change the subject - but wildflower seed is best frost seeded this time of year as it is very dormant seed. It needs the freezing/thawing action to stratify the seed. The best bet is forget the plow - mow it this summer or burn it, kill the regrowth with Roundup,and broadcast the seed on frozen ground Feb./March. If you insist on plowing - don't cover the seed, just pack it in, but some of it may not germinate until the following spring.
A small tractor and brushhog type cutter is all you would need otherwise.
Good luck
PLK






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 03-04-2001, 16:41 Post: 25020
Ted Kennedy



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

PLK is right, from my experience. I am assuming a lot when I say that Stephen is talking about perennial wild flower seeds. If that is the case, an even simpler method that requires no tractor at all is a match, just like PLK said. I burn the area for seeding late in the fall, and then broadcast the seeds prior to frost. I also recommend a cover of salt marsh hay to keep the birds from the seeds before the snow flies. It all mulches away come spring and when the first warm rays hit the area it doesn't take long to see results. Two years later, most have self-sown, and you'll find you have quite a few flowers on hand. Open ground does seem more of a sure thing, but it really isn't necessary.






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 03-07-2001, 15:44 Post: 25156
Stephen Kasten



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Ted - Could you please explain more about burning a field of grass? (I am in East TN.) How dry does it need to be? Do you use accelerants? How do you keep it in the exact area you wish to burn without spreading? What is "salt marsh hay"? Is this something you plant, or something you buy and spread? Thanks for your help! - Steve






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 03-08-2001, 05:50 Post: 25183
Ted Kennedy



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Steve, not every state or town is the same when it comes to burning so you may not be allowed to burn, but if you are, here is the way it is safely done in my area. We have a volunteer fire department, this is a big help. Come the late Fall, not during drought, I flag the area I need to burn so everyone knows the area of containment. All of the vegetation in the area that is to be burned is kept no higher than a foot to provide fuel, and twenty feet outwards from the flags has been mown down to ground level to reduce the threat of the fire spreading. Never use an accelerant. Don't burn next to structures. The volunteers do the burning using flame thrower like torches, standing by with their tanker and pumper. As the fire reaches the flagged perimeter, they knock it down with the hose. They won't burn leaves, they just want the grass or other small brushy plants so as to keep the flames down. They do this on as near a windless day as possible. After the burn is over, one of the junior volunteers usually stays for the night to make sure nothing gets going again, the young guys love it! This is a service the volunteers provide for donation support, which I lavishly ($) and wholehearted support and the town allows by permit. I have great respect for the volunteers and am very proud and thankful for their help. Salt marsh hay is hay from the grass that grows in the marshes along the Eastern Seaboard, many make their living harvesting it for landscaping purposes. It comes in bales, square or rolled, depending on the supplier. We use salt marsh hay because what seeds may be present come from plant species that mostly won't grow in normal soil. Consequently, you aren't into weed problems caused from seeds found in hay baled from the same area's soil. You just spread it by hand, like feeding the chickens, cover every foot. You could rent a bale spreader, the kind you dump big hand-fulls into and it spreads the hay more quickly over large areas. I prefer to "feed the chickens". Also, salt hay seems to mulch faster, providing the wild flower (or lawn grass) seedlings with organic nutrients. The hay also keeps the birds from having a complete feast, they do get some seeds but not as many if you cover thoroughly. Marsh hay also helps prevent erosion. There is no need to roll the seeds down like a lawn. After winter is over, the seeds are ready and the seedlings come right up. An alternate method is to burn, sow your seeds, and put down a one inch top soil "dressing". I only do this if the client asks for it and is willing to pay for premium top soil, and I would still lay down the hay. Need to know more? Just ask and I'll be glad to help.






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 03-08-2001, 08:02 Post: 25191
Bird Senter

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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Ted, I sure know what you mean about the grass and weeds you get from ordinary hay. But of course over here in the middle of the country we don't have the salt marsh hay so we use wheat or oat straw that was cut and baled after the grain was harvested with a combine.






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 03-08-2001, 09:02 Post: 25194
Ted Kennedy



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 Tractor for Wildflower Bed

Thanks Bird, I am a regional landscaper and ignorant of how the rest of the country does most things I take for granted. I'll remember this and be sure to include it in future discussions as appropriate. Again, this is why I like coming to this forum, it expands my knowledge and that in and of itself is a positive thing. Thanks again, and personally, I think you and Murph help provide the glue that holds this thing all in perspective. You guys have never run a bulldozer over someone else, are literate and well spoken, and possess a clarity of thought and wealth of knowledge uncommon to today.






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 03-11-2001, 14:30 Post: 25359
PLK



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Ted pretty much covered the burning subject, but I might add a few notes.
Burning is the best way to prepare for dormant seeding wildflowers and prairie grasses, however it is also the most dangerous! I made the mistake of trying to burn some switchgrass last spring without enough help and a sudden wind change soon sent a raging inferno racing cross country faster then a man can run!! Only with the help of friends with tractors and other equipment did we get it under control. You need lots of help and a wide area mowed close (or plowed ) that the fire can't jump. A backpack sprayer works well to put out fires that try to burn across the fire lane. Not trying to scare you but just a little advance warning to have plenty of help, watch the weather report, and be careful. In Iowa, we don't use mulch on large scale plantings, as the root system holds the soil and new growth quickly germinate's to provide ground cover. Enjoy your wildflowers!
PLK






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Farming Ranching Agriculture Forum

Thread 24871 Filter by Poster:
Annette 1 | Bird Senter 2 | Greg franklin 1 | JeffM 2 | PLK 2 | Stephen Kasten 3 | SteveT 1 | Ted Kennedy 3 |




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