Plant clever companions

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

When it comes to ul­ti­mate companions in the gar­den, take note of the North Amer­i­can In­dian tradition and plant your vege patch with the three sis­ters. This com­bi­na­tion of corn, beans and squash works well and has been in ex­is­tence for hun­dreds of years. The corn (sun­flow­ers were planted as well) pro­vides a struc­ture for the beans to grow up, the beans fix ni­tro­gen in the soil, im­prov­ing its over­all fer­til­ity, and shal­low­rooted squash be­comes a liv­ing mulch, shad­ing the soil, re­duc­ing weeds and con­serv­ing soil mois­ture. The plants them­selves grow well to­gether, and show clear ev­i­dence of com­pan­ion plant­ing at its best. To plant your own patch of three sis­ters, choose a site that gets all-day sun and dig in com­post. A slow re­lease fer­tiliser may be ben­e­fi­cial too. Cre­ate sev­eral mounds about 30 cen­time­tres high and 50cm across, giv­ing your mound a level top. The cen­tre of each mound should be about 150cm apart. For good corn pol­li­na­tion you should be look­ing at a patch about 3 me­tres by 3m. A smaller patch may re­sult in un­even pol­li­na­tion. In the cen­tre of each mound, plant six to seven corn ker­nels in a small circle. You won’t end up with this many, but it’s best to plant more than you need. When the corn seedlings reach 10cm high, ap­ply a bal­anced fer­tiliser. When they reach 15cm to 20cm, sow six to seven climb­ing beans, also in a circle, 15cm away from the corn plants. Wait an­other week, then sow your squash or pump­kin seeds on the edge of the circle, about 30cm away from the beans. When the corn plants are about 20cm high, thin them out to four plants. Leave the health­i­est look­ing plants be­hind. Do the same for your beans and squash when they’re a rea­son­able size, thin­ning beans to four plants and squash to two plants each mound. Do the same for the other mounds, sow­ing seeds at the dis­tances men­tioned above, and thin­ning seedlings as you go. Most sweet­corn va­ri­eties are ready for pick­ing 90 to 100 days af­ter plant­ing, al­though ma­tu­rity of­ten dif­fers from year to year, de­pend­ing on the tem­per­a­tures. In cooler ar­eas, where the sea­son is shorter, it’s best to choose early ma­tur­ing va­ri­eties. Any climb­ing bean or squash va­ri­ety may be grown. You can ex­per­i­ment with va­ri­eties of beans or squash on each mound, but stick to the one corn va­ri­ety or the va­ri­eties will cross-pol­li­nate. Wa­ter and feed plants reg­u­larly. At such close quar­ters, plants will be com­pet­ing for nu­tri­ents. Weed around the three sis­ters un­til the squash leaves cover the soil. Your plants will grow, and a bumper har­vest should re­sult.

Ben­e­fi­cial: Beans fix ni­tro­gen in the soil, im­prov­ing its over­all fer­til­ity.

Healthy op­tion: When corn plants are high enough, thin them out to four plants. Leave the health­i­est look­ing plants be­hind.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.