Sunday, May 12, 2013

Garden Update

I'm really good at growing weeds...
The seedlings were doing pretty well up until two weeks ago, when finals happened and I got pretty sick.

Now there are four left.

Two of them are little bitty bell pepper plants,  one is a cantaloupe seedling and the last is a moonflower.  I don't think the peppers were started early enough to go into the garden but maybe I'll stick them in pots on my patio as a consolation prize.

I also finally got to work in my little garden plot today.  I've changed up my plans a little bit since I last blathered about it, in order to incorporate some of what I've learned about gardening in the last month.

I've read this book as well as a couple others on permaculture which were really exciting.  It's all about how through proper gardening techniques you can contribute to the health of the soil, provide a proper habitat, and nurture yourself from your landscape. 

They mainly deal with perennial plants but some of the same principles can still be applied to my more temporary situation.

So, instead of having homogenized blocks of plants I'll be doing a variation on the "three sisters" tradition.

As I'm sure many of you know, the "three sisters" refers to the Native American practice of planting corn, beans, and squash together.   The attributes of these three types of plants work together to provide themselves a better growing environment.  The Legumes are nitrogen fixers, making the soil healthier for the other plants.  The corn acts a trellis for the legumes and provides some shade to the more delicate plants.   The squash is a good ground cover and inhibits the growth of weeds, as well as conserving water.

This is a system that has proven itself over thousands of years and works by providing the needs of some plants through the natural qualities of others.

I'm going to mess with it and hope that it still works.

As you can see, I'm letting the weeds mulch in place.
The main change that I'll be making is to the squash.  I don't specifically remember ever trying squash and I don't really want to plant a lot of something that I wouldn't know what to do with.  Instead I'll be using cantaloupe which is actually a relative of squash, so I think that It should work just fine.

The second change I'll be making is to use pepper plants in half the plots, instead of corn.  Although not quite as tall as the original component, I think that the peppers should provide a good trellis for the legumes.

For the legumes I'm using sugar snap peas, mostly because they're a variety I recognize.

Although, it occurs to me that I should check to make sure that they're a vining variety rather than a bush type.

Yesterday I planted the corn, peas and cantaloupe seeds in little round mounds.  Although I'm not entirely certain that they will be enough time for the cantaloupe to produce fruit and ripen properly.

Is there such a thing as cantaloupe starts?

I'll wait another week or so before putting the peppers in,  mostly because I will have the money to buy the starts then.

I also might try to find some nasturtium seeds, which is a type of edible flower that I'm interested in trying.   If I understand it correctly it's also another type of ground cover which should also attract insects.

1 comment:

  1. We bought our cantaloupe starts yesterday. I usually don't get very big cantaloupes here but even the smaller ones will ripen up in our season. Cucumbers work well for spreading too. I usually plant them between my tomatoes. If someone else near you plants butternut squash, call me. I have a fantastic recipe for a butternut soup that is one of the best soups I have ever had...and it freezes well in single ziploc servings for days when you have to take your lunch to work or school.