Crop ‘til you drop

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - GARDENING -

If you are any­thing like me at this time of the year one of the big­gest is­sues you have is try­ing to squeeze what seems an in­fi­nite amount of crops into a fi­nite space. There is a prac­tice de­vel­oped by the an­cient Aztecs which they re­ferred to as milpa but is now known as the Three Sis­ters. Corn, Squash and Climb­ing Beans. It is an in­gen­u­ous method of util­is­ing space by plant­ing three crops in the same bed that have qual­i­ties that are mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. The squash ram­bles over the ground, shad­ing and cov­er­ing the soil to pre­vent wa­ter loss, the beans fix ni­tro­gen to their roots and when dug back through when the crop is fin­ished will pro­vide food for the soil and there­fore your next crop and fi­nally, the corn acts as a sup­port for the climb­ing beans. Plant your corn first and space them a lit­tle fur­ther apart than you would nor­mally, then fol­low up a few weeks later when the corn has ger­mi­nated and is grow­ing well, plant­ing your beans and squash. This way the corn gets a good head start and stops it get­ting squashed by the squash.

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