Three Sisters: An Ancient Garden Trio

Three Sisters: An Ancient Garden Trio

Companion Planting
"The Three Sisters all work together. Critters will find it harder to invade your garden by inter-planting your corn, beans and squash. The corn stalk serves as a pole for the beans, the beans help to add the nitrogen to the soil that the corn needs, while the squash provides a ground cover of shade that helps the soil retain moisture."[1] I have read that this companion planting combo helps keep the raccoons off your corn. Evidently they don't like wading through the pricklies of the squash to get up to the corn. I am trying this method at our farm/homestead this year (2010) using Golden Bantam corn, The Three Sisters is the name given by some Native Americans to the practice of growing corn, beans, and squash together. The…
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How To Improve the Soil in Your Garden With Sheet Mulching

How To Improve the Soil in Your Garden With Sheet Mulching

Soil & Compost
Would you like to learn how to improve your garden's soil? Sheet mulching may be the answer for you! Is your garden typically riddled with weeds by mid-summer? Are you looking for an organic method for improving the fertility of your soil? Interested in learning inexpensive techniques for maximizing your garden's water retaining properties? Master organic gardener Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables and coauthor of Edible Forest Gardens, has the perfect solution for you: sheet mulching! Sheet mulching combines soil improvement, weed removal, and long-term mulching in one fell swoop. This technique, also known as lasagna gardening, builds organic material and smothers weeds at the same time, so they never get a chance to grow!. [caption id="attachment_815" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, a Gardener's Guide…
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Monoecious Cucumbers

Growing Food, Organic Gardening
Cucumbers and other vine crops are monoecious. Monoecious plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Male and female flowers are similar in appearance. However, the female flowers have small, immature fruits at their base. Pollen is transferred from the male to the female flowers by bees. When properly pollinated and fertilized, the female flowers develop into fruit. The first flowers to appear on cucumbers and other vine crops are male. Female flowers appear shortly after. Gynoecious varieties are special hybrids which produce predominantly female flowers. Seeds of a standard monoecious variety are commonly included in the seed packet to ensure adequate pollination. (The seeds of the monoecious variety may be dyed or placed in a separate packet.) Gynoecious varieties often outproduce standard varieties when a pollenizer…
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Air Layering for Difficult to Root Plants

Gardening Methods, Organic Gardening
Air layering is a useful method of producing roots on the stem of indoor landscape plants that have become "leggy" through the loss of their lower foliage. This method, believed to have been developed centuries ago by the Chinese, has been used successfully as a mean of propagating some of the more difficult-to-root plants. Because it required excessive care and patience, air layering was used only by the highly trained plantsman. The procedure was to wound the stem or branch of a plant and enclose the wounded stem with moist sphagnum moss or similar rooting medium until roots develop from the wounded area. Success was dependent upon the ability of the propagator to keep the rooting medium moist until the roots were formed and large enough to support the new…
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US Zone Map

US Zone Map

Weather
... with a/b divisions. Click on the map to get a closer look at it. [caption id="attachment_1665" align="aligncenter" width="300"] United States Hardiness Zone Map with Half Zones[/caption]
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Using Beneficial Insects

Organic Pest & Disease Control
The "Do-Good" Bugs A guide to choosing and using beneficial insects, mites and nematodes. Insects are the most successful living organisms on the Earth. That's just one reason it makes good sense to balance one against the other, rather than trying to kill pests with poisons. It is also true that in nature there are no good or bad bugs. All are trying to make a living in the way nature programmed them. But from a gardener's perspective, some insects help and some don't. It's smart to learn about and exploit insect behaviors. In this article you'll learn how to wisely purchase and use beneficial insects. Using insects to control other insects has a long history. Ancient Chinese records describe the construction of bamboo runways to help predatory ants move…
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Compost Tea

Compost Tea
Compost tea is a helpful way to fertilize your garden. Compost tea is reported to increase disease resistance in plants, reduce fertilizer and water needs as well as plant stress, and improve soil structure, aeration, retention of nutrients, and cycling of nutrients into plant-available forms. Compost tea puts the microbes back into soils that have been subjected to chemicals or soils that are naturally limited in microbial activity. When applied to plant foliage, compost tea prevents harmful substances, including disease organisms, from reaching the plant. It also increases the amount of nutrients taken up by foliar-applied fertilizers. What is Compost Tea? Compost tea is an aerobically brewed liquid extract made from compost. Compost tea can contains tons of beneficial organisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and nematodes, as well as nutrients that…
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Identify Your Soil Type

Identify Your Soil Type

Soil & Compost
Soils are generally described according to the predominant type of soil particle present - sand, silt, or clay. By conducting a simple soil test, you can easily identify your soil type. You may want to repeat this test with several different soil samples from your lawn and garden. Fill a quart jar about 1/3 full with topsoil and add water until the jar is almost full. Screw on the lid and shake the mixture vigorously, until all the clumps of soil have dissolved. Now set the jar on a windowsill and watch as the larger particles begin to sink to the bottom. In a minute or two the sand portion of the soil will have settled to the bottom of the jar (see illustration). Mark the level of sand on…
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April Gardening Calendar

Flower Gardening, Growing Food, Organic Gardening, Year Round Gardening
The gardening calendar for April provides a list of recommended food growing tips and <sigh>gardening chores. If you haven't started your organic gardening adventure yet, it is HIGH time! April is a wonderful time for growing organic food. More people garden in April and May than any other time of the year. Winter is over, the hot months of July and August are not pounding you.... it is just a fabulous time to be outside. The date of last expected frost has come and gone (for most). Consult the growing zone maps to determine your garden's date of expected last frost. Early in the month there is still time to plant the cool season vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, lettuces, greens and onions. (if you haven't already!) Corn and beans…
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