Eclipse Day and One Plant!

As most of you knew, today was the total eclipse that passed across the United States. Being in Minnesota, we were not in the path of totality, but we did have an ok view of the shadow cast by the moon.

Anyway, today started off a little wet and part of the morning was spent on individual projects. When it had dried off a bit, the team headed to P1 to complete rechecks and addition/exclusion of aphids. There is also only one plant left for phenology! Wes had the honor to go out and check it today, but other than that phenology is done!

At lunch, we caught a glimpse of the eclipse. However, it was a little risky since none of us had eclipse glasses….

Then in the afternoon, the team worked on demo at Riley and harvesting.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Viewing the eclipse, demo at Riley, Tracie working on R, Kristen doing aphids, rechecks


Is That Rain?!

This Thursday was pleasant with cloud cover and low temps, but the unexpected rain patches left most of the day to computer work. This morning started off wet and most of the team worked on projects. Mid- morning, Ashley and I headed out to P9 to finish measuring. Luckily we finished just before the rain! During this same time, Gretel, Alex, and Wes worked on Demo at Railroad Crossing.

While eating lunch we were almost going to make plans, but then guess what happened? It rained… and then it began to pour… So, instead we spent the afternoon doing some individual project work. A few of us worked on our computers, Alex pinned pollinators, and Lea and Tracie went out complete more of their sites. Overall it was a pretty good day!

And just an update on Plexipus the caterpillar- he has made his chrysalis and is beginning to form into a butterfly!

The coming days will include lots of demo and soon harvesting!

The End is Near

After a crazy and super fun Waterama  weekend in Glenwood, it was fun to get back to work with the rest of Team Echinacea. Today was phenology Wednesday and with many of the plants done flowering it took barely an hour to complete everything! I will admit I am a little sad that summer is almost over… However, since phenology is nearing the end, we also used this morning to work on demo at north railroad crossing and around landfill.  I worked with Gretel and Alex after finishing phenology at around landfill and found a tiny (hopefully monarch) caterpillar! His name is Angustus and I am hoping he will grow into a fantastic butterfly we can release soon!

After lunch, we headed out to P2 to measure. Today we got to row 37 out of 80. Even though this is less than half, the coming rows have fewer plants. When we had measured for about 3 hours, Stuart cut up a watermelon and the team enjoyed that as an end to a great day.

The plan for the rest of the week includes more demo, phenology, and other projects! Also, everyone is looking forward to the promise of a cool, 60 degree day tomorrow!


Top left- Alex staking at alf, Angustus the caterpillar, measuring, and an Echinacea done flowering


Soil Analysis of Echinacea

This summer I am going to be using Google Earth Pro and Rstudio to plot the GPS points of Echinacea plants. From there I will use an application called Soilweb to determine the type of soil where these points/plants are. I will then look into the different characteristics for that soil such as water holding capacity, nutrients, texture, or cation exchange capacity.


project prop. Anna V. Soil

Projects and Measuring

Today everyone went to work right away on their projects. Ashley headed back out to Nice Island to do more pollination and she hopes to report more results soon! Wes headed out to Hegg Lake to continue his vegetation analysis- check out his project in the previous post. Lea and Tracie went around to some of the sites for Lea’s experiment and recorded data.  Alex spent some time sorting, counting, and identifying the bees from his yellow pan traps. Will did some more work on R studio. And I spent some time learning more functions on R and becoming more familiar with the soil web application I am using for my project on Google Earth Pro.

Ashley and Tracie measuring in p1, Wes determining the number of leaves on a flowering Echinacea, and a basal Echinacea plant in p1.

After lunch, we all headed out to p1 to continue measuring. With everyone working hard, we completed the first page of measuring for the fitness experiment. Ashley and Tracie even found at  2 “rogue” plants. These were marked as staples last year, but this year were very much growing Echinacea! By the time measuring wrapped up for the day, we were almost half done with the next page for the 96′ and 98′ plants!

Also, make sure to follow “We Rate Echinacea” on twitter! And send in your pics of Echinacea angustifolia to be rated!

Tomorrow the game plan is phenology in the morning, a visit from Amy D., and demo.

Stay tuned and until next time!

Sunny Saturday

Today was a perfect sunny day in Minnesota!

I went hiking with some cousins at Glacial Lakes State Park and saw some awesome native prairie. I then went out to the dairy and helped with some of the baby calves.  Other members of team Echinacea worked on their projects and some traveled down to Minneapolis.

It’s hard to believe that July is half done! Looking forward to more flowering Echinacea and other fun!!


Wonderful Phenology Wednesday

Today team echinacea enjoyed some weather on the other end of the spectrum from the high and humid 80s last week. With temps in the low 70s, clouds, and a breeze it was a convenient day for phenology and measuring.

In the morning we broke off into teams to complete phenology at the remnants, Staffanson, and p2. Will, Tracie, and I went out to p2 and recorded the status of the many, many flowering plants.  As we went along, Will and Tracie began rating some of the echinacea on a scale of 1-10. Ones with full heads and perfect florets received some high scores! We are also beginning to find plants that are already done flowering.

Echinacea in P2


After everyone returned to the Hjelm house we had lunch and then headed right out to p1 to measure the plants part of the fitness experiment. When we had measured for exactly 100 minutes, everyone split up to work on their individual projects.  I did some work on the computer looking at soil maps of Minnesota and some of the Echinacea plots on Google Earth.  Ashley went out to Nice Island to do more pollination, Lea and Wes where out at Hegg Lake,  and Alex checked on his yellow pan traps.

Tomorrow we are leaving bright and early to head up north for measuring orchids! Looking forward to an awesome and fun filled day!!

Chill Saturday…

Team Echinacea did not meet today, so many of us used the day to work on projects or simply relax. I started my day by helping on my family’s dairy and after lunch enjoyed the rest of the day with some friends.

A couple members of the team used the day to get some work done on their projects. For example, Ashley spent some time crossing some of her experimental plants. Some of the team also took a little road trip to Minneapolis to visit the Walker Art Center and other things downtown.

Hopefully the weather will stay beautiful for the coming week!

p8 Is Complete!

Team Echinacea endured another warm day, but we got a good amount of work completed. In the morning, we worked on our individual projects. Wes took a trip out to Hegg Lake, I ran to Morris to pick up some soil testing equipment, Ashley chose the plants for her experiment, and Alex put out more yellow pan traps. Just to name a few of the things that went on.

(Top left clockwise) Team Echinacea after completing p8, rootbeer floats!, heading out to p8, measuring in p8.

After lunch we headed back out to p8 to finish measuring the last 21 rows of the q2 and q3 experiment. To make the process go a little smoother in the east part of the garden, a few metal detectors were used to find the meter marking nails.

Working together and efficiently we were successfully able to finish measuring!! After all the tapes were pulled in, we headed back to the Hjelm house for root beer floats. They were super refreshing!

Tomorrow’s agenda includes more phenology and some work on the aphid experiment.


We started the morning by going into P1 to look and record and flowering or basal Stipa. This task involved locating the Stipa, counting the stems, healthy, aborted, along with missing fruits, and then collecting the healthy fruits for planting. Information collected will be used to estimate the fitness of stipa. Working together we finished the entire plot and recorded 147 stipa plants. The largest plant had 31 stems and 301 fruits!

(Left to right) The stipa seeds seperated for counting, a large stipa plant, Will and Wes working in P1

After lunch some of us worked on individual projects and a couple went into P8 to plant they freshly harvested stipa seeds. This was done by broadcasting (aka distributing) them evenly throughout the entire plot. Later in the afternoon Will, Ashley, and myself, went back into P1 to locate the plants part of the aphid project.  These randomly selected Echinacea will be monitored for aphid activity throughout the summer. Will claims to have found one, in his own words, that had over a billion aphids! Which is honestly not the best for any plant…

(left to right) Broadcasting the stipa in p8, the pile of harvested stipa seeds, a stipa plant that had 163 seeds


Looking forward to more phenology and flowering Echinacea!