(American) Indian syle gardening

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I'm looking for info/links on American Indian style gardening using the three sisters principle ..corn in the middle of a mound, then beans, and finally squash all around. Can I use corn, peas and cucumbers or pumpkins in the same manner? Straight rows didn't do well in my garden the last 2 years. I have dirt/clay soil with lots of manure in from our cows and straw. I want a low maintanence garden and weeds are a problem on our pasture land. Any suggestions?

-- Andrea Reimer (kareimer@telusplanet.net), March 09, 2001


Response to Indian syle gardening

Hello Andrea You could use peas, cucumber and pumpkins I assume. One of the purposes of using vine crops around you corn is to keep the racoons from eating you matured ears of corn. They tend not to want to walk amongst the vines to get to the corn stalks. The vine crops grow on the stalks and that makes them easier to pick. The vine crops runn along the grown and help keep moisture in the roots of the corn to keep the sun from drying them out. Ane the corn stalks provide enough shade to keep the squash plants from drying out in the sun as well. Growing in mounds does have its advantages as it is similar to raised bed gardening and the temperature of the soil will be slightly warmer in the mounds as opposed to row methods. If you have had unsuccessful gardens in the last two years, could it be that you have too much nitrogen from too fresh manure? If the manure is still hot it will burn the roots of the crops it is covering. I am not completely aware of other factors concerning your soil conditions. What is your pH? You could be too alkaline. Maybe, have you put too much woodash in your soil? If your soil is already alkaline and you have added too much woodash or lime to it your plants will no survive too well. Same thing with too acidic. If you have put too much sawdust or pine needles in the soil it will cause your plants also to perform poorly. You pH should be somewhere around 5.6 or so. Higher for acid loving plants. I hope I have helped you, Sincerely, Ernest http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks

-- Ernest in the Ozarks (espresso42@hotmail.com), March 10, 2001.

Field peas can be used in place of beans. That is what most folks used to do here before they decided everything should come from the store. They planted the corn in rows, waited until it was up about knee high, then planted the peas in the spaces in the rows between the corn plants. I've done it, but had too much ammonium nitrate on the corn and the peas didn't produce well. You can used black eyed peas, purple hulls, cream peas, etc. Just in case someone thought we were talking about the green English peas. Those aren't the right kind for this type of planting.

-- (ratdogs10@yahoo.com), March 11, 2001.

This month's issue of Mother Earth News has an article on American Indian Planting Methods. Enjoy!

-- Tiffani Cappello (cappello@alltel.net), March 14, 2001.

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