Posts filed under ‘Planting’
In order to maximize energy and space in the garden, many gardeners choose to co-plant multiple crops together in the same field. In the Beach flats garden, corn beans and squash are planted together in various formations according to each gardener’s experience and traditions. Corn beans and squash co-planting is known as a three sister garden and is common in many indigenous planting traditions. There are two ways in which corn and beans are commonly co-planted in the Beach Flats Garden. The more common method involves planting the corn 1 to 2 months ahead of the beans, so the corn has time to grow. This method produces a larger yield from the corn in exchange for a smaller quantity of beans. The other method involves planting them at the same time and allowing the beans to climb over the corn as it grows. The bean yield is greater while the corn is reduced. As the beans grow they feed the soil to the benefit of the corn beans and squash in the parcel. The third sister, squash, can be seen growing in the rows. The squash plants reduce evaporation and weed growth by making shade in the parcel. Vine squash can be trained to grow down the rows to maximize the effect. However a gardener chooses to plant, if the garden has corn beans and squash, its a happy garden.
Beans are generally a prolifically growing vine that will climb anything they can get their tendrils on. The more they have to climb, the more they will grow, and there are many ways to provide support for them. Planting beans with corn is an ancient and sacred way to co-pant these staple crops. The corn supports the beans and the beans nourish the soil as they grow; both plants benefit from the others presence. Also, a gardener can plant them next to a fence and they will climb it. A trellis or other structure can be custom built for the season if no fences are available. Some poles stuck in the ground with or without wires running between the is a good way to row crop beans. A tipi is an easy and sturdy way to make a very tall structure to maximize space. Finally, a gardener may choose to plant bush beans instead, these beans are self supporting and need no structures.
Sometimes, despite a gardener’s best efforts, the ideal harvest window on a particular vegetable or fruit is missed. This can lead to oversized fruit, overripe fruit, damage from pests, or even theft. In some cases the veggie can be saved for seeds but sometimes it is just a loss. In the case of squash you can save the seeds, but because of the nature of hybrid seeds, and the genetics of the cucurbita genus, there is no guarantee you will get the same type of squash next year. The cabbage will be edible, but less tender and sweet than if it were small. The corianed/cilantro seeds can be collected and used for planting or as a spice.
Tomatoes are eager to please with their abundantly delicious colorful fruit. They are so productive that they are unable to support themselves; and in most cases need a house or structure on which they can rest. One can buy a variety of cages for this, but gardeners on a budget often construct a home from the things they have available. In our case, sticks and some re-purposed wire. I pounded the sticks (3 – 4 feet long) into the ground and wrapped them with wire. The wire spirals gently upwards to support the plant at all levels. As the plant grows it is important to position the leaves, branches, and fruit so that they have room to grow. Use your best judgement and make sure the plant does not look crowded.
Our beans have made good use of the houses we built for them. Soon they will flower in preparation for the beans that will come.
Our work and love of Mother Earth includes: irrigation, building houses, harvesting, weeding, training tendrils of our beans and squash, ETC! The sunshine showers these days, so many of us gardeners attend to the hydrating needs of our plants.
Many gardeners use furrow irrigation. The photo post from Tuesday shows you many furrows in El Jardin. As young farmers, we experiment with the land based on what we learned on our past farming adventures. In this spirit, we created our own irrigation system. This year we walked around our parcel to determine the place of each plant to approach Mother Earth differntly.
On Sunday and Monday, we scupted Mother Earth to feed and nurture our plants. Because we planted where we felt our plants should go, we cratfed the land so each plant or groups of plants grow from a basin made in the earth. Our tomatoes and squash have individual water resevoir. Meanwhile our rows of brassicas and rows of chiles turned out to be a longer, lower basin, reminiscient of one of the stages of furrow irrigation. The water then settles and soaks into our earth, nurturing the roots. Our plants grow in a good way, accept the good bestowed upon them, and fend off that which hurts them.
Our community garden offers plenty of learning opportunities. Although we used this type of irrigation system this year, we see many other irrigation types in our garden. It is helpful to learn so much from one’s neighbors. In this way we share our knowledge and experiences, so we may become better farmers and a stronger community.