Friday, June 4, 2010

Three Sisters Garden

We have dedicated a section of our land to doing a 3 Sisters Garden, an ancient method of gardening using an intercropping system which grows corn, beans, and squash crops simultaneously in the same growing area. The idea :

Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center.
Squash is the next sister. She grows over the mound, protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist.
Beans are the third sister. She climbs through squash and then up corn to bind all together as she reaches for the sun. Beans help keep the soil fertile by coverting the sun's energy into nitrogen filled nodules that grow on its roots. As beans grow they use the stored nitrogen as food.

Dosen't look like much now but it will be tall and beautiful in a few months! We started the corn from seed indoors about a month ago. In this picture you can see that we planted 7 rows of 3 stalks. It is important to plant several rows close together or the stalks won't pollinate and then you won't get any corn! We planted 3 squash plants down the center of this bed. We had a dinner at the house back in april where we cooked a Butternut Squash. We simply saved the seeds from it, dried them out for a few days, and then planted them in a little soil and now they are beautiful little starts ready to go outside!

The third sister, beans, will get planted once the stalks are big enough for them to climb on, and the squash has leaves are large enough to provide shade for the little beans to get started under.

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