Monday, July 4, 2011

Three Sisters - Part 2

My Three Sisters garden is a little over a month old now. It is coming along quite nicely, I think. There are only two problems, really. But first, a couple pictures:

The bottom center that doesn't look very mound-y, nor plant-y, didn't take on the first planting. Well, that's not true, the squash I planted didn't take. the weeds took very well. So I took a stirrup hoe and decapitated it, to serve as an example to the others. I really think the threat of violence encouraged the other plants to grow. (that's a joke. Don't call PETP on me).

Here is a close-up of a corn and bean mound, which also illustrates one of the problems.

It may be a little hard to see in the pick, but if you closely, you will notice several holes in the bean leaves. One of the features of the three sisters garden is supposed to be predator management. The beans are supposedly a deterrent for deer, who like corn but not beans. The squash is supposed to keep racoons and other critters out of the corn and beans. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem the Native Americans accounted for grasshoppers and other itty-bitty bugs in their design. They seem particularly fond of my baby bean plants, one if which was chewed right down to a nub. I was going to try and do this garden non-chemically. But I don't think the beans will survive the hoppers if I don't take drastic measures.  You may notice in the first picture, at the very back, a large sheet of black plastic. until a couple days ago, that was a rather large, weeded area - an unfinished part of the yard. As a quick fix, I whacked it down, and covered it, until I have the resources to finish developing that spot, hopefully that will reduce the grasshopper population next to the garden.

The other problem has been that the corn keeps tipping over. Perhaps I planted the corn seed to shallow? At any rate, the  roots are rather fragile, considering the height corn achieves, and as I water (Using a cheap watering can), the soil from the mounds erodes a bit. I have been re-packing soil as needed, so I haven't actually lost any corn yet. I am think of a modification to the design for next year though. Instead of creating mounds, I plan to create holes. My thought is to dig a hole eighteen inches in diameter and 1 foot deep, then fill it back up with nine or ten inches of the soil-manure mixture, leaving a two or three inch hole in which to plant. That should solve the eroding mound problem, as well as make it easier to apply heavier watering as the plants get bigger (i.e. Fill the whole and let it soak in). And I will be one step closer to earning by garden hacking cred.

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