So I don’t talk a great deal about my family on the blog—it’s not called bobandwifepluskids.com for a reason—but I am actually a very happily married husband with two wonderful kids, and we do a lot of stuff together.
For the past few years my wife has run our raised bed gardens, which consist of a 8′x8′ bed and two 4′x8′ beds, plus four half-barrels. Our lives are hectic since she and the kids are in school, and so I’ve promised to help out where I can in the agricultural side of things, which I’ve found is a great release from the job hunt frustrations.
Three weeks ago I got our three main beds double-dug, turning spring weeds and old plants under into green manure, and mixed in compost made from last year’s grass clippings, which have been cooking in a couple of compost bins into something that vaguely resembles, but isn’t quite, compost.
A week later I killed anything that dared rear up out of the soil, and finally, today, I got started on my first attempt at a three sisters garden.
I set up four hills in our 8′x8′ bed and planted seven pieces of seed corn in each. Most of what I’ve read said to plant 4-6 peices, but I tend to kill things, so figured a couple of spares wouldn’t hurt. Additionally, I sowed three rows of corn on the south facing side of our back fence, about 10 inches apart in each row, with each row about 18 inches apart. I’m working on the speculation that this corn might keep wildlife out of the people-food gardens.
We’ll see how well that works. I’m guessing they’ll laugh at me and keep eating whatever they want.
If the weather cooperates, I’m hoping the corn will be 4″-6″ inches tall the weekend after my next Appleseed, and then I’ll be planting pole beans that will climb the corn stalks in the raised bed for support. If I have plenty of bean seeds (yes, it is redundant but looks weird otherwise) left over I’ll add some of those to the back fence sacrificial garden, and I may as well put in the squash and pumpkins then as well.
If the theory holds up and I don’t screw things up too much, the beans will climb the corn stalks, strengthening each against the wind, while the beans fix nitrogen in the soil on which the corn and squash will feed. The squash serves as a living mulch, and the spines on the plant tend to keep racoons at bay. And while it isn’t in the three sisters planting I’ve seen, I’ll add marigolds as soon as the squash and beans begin to grow to hopefully keep away six-legged pests.
All of this is purely speculative at this point, of course. I have a rather bad reputation as a plant serial killer (including trees), so we’ll see how this goes.