Monday, April 3, 2017
A Big Idea: Three Sisters
Now, I've gotta say up front that this is an idea that is very unlikely to work for me. But you've gotta think about stuff and you've gotta try, even if some stuff seems doomed from the start to fail.
Here's what I'm thinking about: Three Sisters. I learned the basics about this from my former Arboretum boss who was affiliated with Native Americans. It's a simple planting system using mounds where plants support one another. It's good for the soil and it's a good way to produce crops. The type of plants might vary and you might plant more than three sisters but basically you plant corn in the center, plant climbing beans in a circle around the corn, and then plant squash around the perimeter of the mound. The beans climb the corn, so you don't need to trellis. The squash vines provide ground support by covering the base of the mound to help keep moisture where it's most needed. It's a beautiful way to grow.
Now, my problem: heavy digging. Can't do it. Just can't. And most of the soil in my yard is simply not arable--that's why I container garden. But my container garden is a wreck right now because I got bad soil from someone a few years ago, and I just can't afford to do a complete soil replacement.
But.....what if? What if I use the already disturbed ground where my tenant's trailer stood for so long. I've already seen proof of growth because of the volunteer tomatoes so some of that land might work. Weeds will make short work of things in that area--I know because they've already started. But someone gave me some weed cloth--not a lot, just some--and I'm aware that stuff doesn't work long term. But what if? What if I just tried this summer? What if I just tried to set up one, two, three mounds?
What if? The only certain path to failure is in not trying at all.
I have seeds in the freezer that people have given me over the past few years. Freezing seeds keeps them viable longer. Some seeds won't work but some will.
So.....what if I just try? What if I hardly dig at all? What if I just let the plants do what plants do on their own without really helping them out? There sure seem to be enough volunteer plants around here lately working out their own fate.
If I plant corn and sunflower seeds next to one another, if I plant wax beans and pole beans around them, if I plant zucchini and summer squash and maybe a pumpkin or two around those, and I could pop a few marigolds in there as well to help control bugs.....it could work. Couldn't it? It would have to be a very determined and very forgiving sort of garden. But plants are determined and forgiving.
When the trailer was removed, I asked the man who bought it to cap the water pipe off with a spigot. So there's water right there.
I've got the land.
I've got the seeds.
I've got water.
Now I just need strength that I haven't got or a helper I can't afford to pay.
Nothing was ever achieved from not doing.
This seems to be a Good Idea Day.
I'm gonna go see what kind of seeds I've got in the freezer.
Life is good.