Monday, May 21, 2007

Allotment Update

We planted a lot of stuff on the allotment yesterday. Asparagus beans, tomatoes, cabbages, Brussels sprouts. My favourite though was planting three sisters.

It's an old Native American intercropping technique. You plant sweetcorn (which grows very tall) and runner beans (which climb up the corn stems) and squash (which trail around the ground) all together. Apparently the crops are slightly less than normal for each crop individually, but much more per unit area than you could otherwise achieve. I'm dying to see how it turns out.

The potatoes look amazing. The weather has really suited them and they've gone berserk. So I'm pretty sure we'll get eelworm or blight or something horrible, I just can't believe how well they're growing, it seems too good to be true.

The soft fruit is a bit mixed. The strawberries are doing well considering it's their first year, and if we can get them before the slugs do we should have ripe strawberries to eat fairly soon. Some of the raspberry canes we planted at the end of January haven't taken, but some of them have. Everything else looks pretty healthy and bunches of little green currants are already developing on the mystery soft fruit bush, so we might get to find out what that is.

I planted Japanese onions last autumn and they've grown well. They should be ready for harvesting in a few weeks. I pinched out a few flower heads today that were trying to develop, and they smelled great, really oniony and fresh.

The weeds are really getting ahead of us now, so I'm determined to go to the allotment every fine day and pull as many weeds as I can. There's a lot more to plant as well, successions of lettuces and radishes, peas, beans.

11 comments:

kethry said...

i remember reading somewhere - on lily marlene's blog - that the three sisters cannot be used the way that people like Carol Klein have been recommending. I quote from her Friday 18th entry:

"Carol Klein was going on about that "Three Sisters" method of growing sweetcorn, squash and beans. Once again she omitted to mention that it is only worth doing if you want maize for grinding and beans for drying....like the Indians did. If you want fresh sweetcorn and fresh beans then don't for goodness sake let the beans climb the sweetcorn. They will wind themselves all round the cobs and you'll not get them off without breaking the bean stem....thus you'll get no beans. I know....I tried it following someone else's suggestion a couple of yeas ago. I was spitting mad when it came to harvesting the cobs. What a waste of bean seeds!"

i think there's more elsewhere on her blog about it, but i've read about this elsewhere as well - you may want to research it a bit before you plant.

HTH

keth
xx

welsh girls allotment said...

Great minds think alike, I am also trialing this way of planting this year.

I also have had a comment on my blog this morning regarding the beans snarling up the sweetcorn, surely as long as you have a dwarf variety and pinch the tops out before they get to the sweetcorn husk they should be OK - surely if the Indians did it for centuries we can make it work between us??

Sara said...

What a busy day you had. I love growing vegetables and it's great running a gardening club at my local school too. I can pass on my enthusiasm!
Sara from farmingfriends in Yorkshire

Melanie Rimmer said...

Thanks Kethry, I'll check that out. It's not too late to transplant things if need be.

Ally said...

I am all set to try it, too, but haven't get planted things out. I'll wait a bit now and do some research first!

Emma Jane said...

Agreed with the Three Sisters method. However I do grow my corn with my squash, and so long as the corns are already good and strong, then they do really well and tower above the trailing squash plants. I am growing Mealie maize this year as an experiment for grinding so just might try a few beans up a couple of them.

We have started picking strawbs Melanie, and by the look of your photo, you must be by now.

Stephanie said...

A friend just gave me some strawberry runners. I'll be picking mine at the farm market this year, but next should have some of my own! :)

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