These are fun days for garden planning and for many of us planting. If you’ve never experimented with companion planting before, a great way to tiptoe in is with a Three Sisters Garden where the sisters refer to the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, corn, and climbing beans (usually tepary beans). The square foot method diagram for a 4 foot x 4 foot plot above shows you one way to lay out your crops. It shows 4 squash plants but you may want to cut the number back to 2 or even 1 depending on the size and type of squash you’re growing.
The idea behind this plan and all plans involving companion planting is that the crops benefit from each other. The pole beans don’t need poles because they can climb up the corn stalks. The beans return the favor by adding nitrogen to the soil for the corn which is a heavy feeder. The squash and its prickly leaves deter pests and prevent weeds from growing. Basically, it’s a real world horticultural example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. If you give it a try this growing season, let us know how it turns out for you.
This month, 6 gardeners from 6 countries take you on a vicarious tour of their gardens via KGI’s Garden Planner. Check out the gardens here: http://kgi.org/blog/roger-doiron/around-world-6-garden-plans
Here’s a visual take on the possible impacts of California’s drought care of Mother Jones. I knew that California grows roughly 33% of the nation’s produce but I was surprised to read just how much of certain crops it produces: broccoli (95%), tomatoes (90%) and lettuce (74%). You might want to grow some extra of those in your garden this year. You can read the accompanying article here.
Yesterday’s chilling New York Times op-ed about California’s drought should be required reading for anyone interested in our country’s food security. It’s no longer a safe bet to assume that the Central Valley can keep on producing one-third of the nation’s produce. Whether you do it out of patriotism or common sense, this would be a good year to start a kitchen garden if you haven’t before or expand a garden if you already have one.
“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” Pete Seeger, (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)
Wondering if you can get by using some of last year’s seeds? The short answer is “maybe.” For a more in-depth answer, check out this helpful chart produced by Colorado State University. See the column on the far right for seed longevity. Of all the seeds I’ve planted, I’ve found that parsnip seeds are the least viable after a year or more.
Got a garden tip, trick or hack to share? I’ll be sending out the KGI newsletter next week and I’d like to include a blog post on our members top 10 tips and I’d love to have your suggestions. I’m thinking of those little time/money/frustration-saving things you know now and wished you had known a few years ago. Pictures are appreciated! This picture, if you’re curious, is from an urban garden I visited in Berlin, Germany where they’re planting crops in bags and milk crates.
PS: Thanks to all who donated to KGI yesterday on GivingTuesday. It all adds up.