She Brings Me Water

An aeclectic look at the nearby world

The Nearby World…

…is called Knotts Island, North Carolina.  Within that circle is the property we live on, with its old farmhouse, large yard, gardens, flora and fauna (wild and domestic).  We try to live small on the land, and low on the food chain- our most recent effort is a 57 foot by 25 foot sunny area we prepared for a Native American “Three Sisters” garden- the sisters are corn, beans and squash.

We borrowed a tiller from friends and Rod (my husband) tilled the area- then had to adjust it to make it oriented to the four directions.  Then we raked and hoed and otherwise toiled to weed, clear and level the space.  I had gotten a book from the library called Native American Gardening (by Michael J. Caduto & Joseph Bruchac) that had plans for a Three Sisters garden; we chose the Wampanoag plan.  Instead of planting the corn in straight rows, you plant them in mounds that are four feet apart, with four corn seeds planted on top of each mound (6 inches apart and one in each of the four directions). 

Two wagon wheels mounted on a four-foot axle served as our guide for spacing the mounds.  I sat on the “tongue” and Rod pulled me up and down the garden, east/west and north/south, so that the wheels made tracks in a grid pattern.  The pattern is 25′ x 25′, since our total length was 57 feet, we did two grids side by side; the extra 7′ allowed us to have an aisle in between the two grids to use as a walkway.  We also used part of that walkway area to transplant some plants we had growing in other gardens that needed more space and/or sunlight.

After we finished making the grid pattern, we formed the mounds using “good dirt” from compost piles around our yard and a pile of horse manure mixed with wood chips we’d gotten from a stable last year.  There are 72 mounds.  After forming each one, we planted the seeds- Silver Queen corn on the west side, Ruby Queen (a red-eared corn) and a sweet corn called Golden Cross Bantam on the east side (not exactly traditional Indian-type corn, but what was available locally). 

This is me, Mari, in a photo taken by Rod, in the Three Sisters garden.  In the foreground are the wagon wheels we used to space the mounds, which you can see here.  Rod also dug a ditch around the entire garden which you can’t see here; strangely, we haven’t seen any animal tracks in the garden since then.  Usually we see deer, raccoon, fox and occasionally bobcat tracks in our other gardens and our neighbor’s garden.  This neighbor is in a constant battle with weeds, bugs and critters for his crops.  He sprays pesticides on a regular basis.  The Native American Gardening book stresses planting enough to share with the critters.  We won’t be using pesticides, but this is a topic for another day.

We planted the corn on May 28th and the 29th.  The Silver Queen and sweet corn are already showing tiny green tips above the dirt.  In the next few days, we’ll plant the beans on the sides of the mounds, four seeds to a mound.  Later, after the corn and beans have had a chance to establish themselves, we’ll plant the squash, which goes in mounds between the corn/bean mounds.  It’s a symbiotic relationship in which the corn plants provide “poles” for the beans to climb up on, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil to feed the corn, and the squash plants, with their large, ground-covering leaves, shade the soil and prevent weeds from taking over.  

We have already had confirmation from the land for our Native American garden: in over 30 years of collecting glass shards and pottery sherds around this piece of land, Rod has never found an arrowhead (point, actually).  While working this garden, he found his first.  A few days later, I found a fist-sized rock that had been worked around the middle to make a groove to attach it to a handle.  The relationship to the past is also symbiotic. 

 

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19 Comments»

  lorigloyd wrote @

Mari! This is a wonderful blog. I love the design and your lotus image. And what you are doing on your land– I am so, so envious! I love forward to coming back here often.

  Anita Marie wrote @

Mari this is just amazing- I loved the writing, your topic the pictures.

WONDERFUL

Your newest fan
anita marie

  gwenguin1 wrote @

Just lovely sweetie!! Thank you for the retreat to a garden idyll part of my life.

I always enjoy the feel of soft dirt between my toes, and breathing air that is painted with the perfumes of faith.

Planting a garden is a clear statement of faith that you will be around ro enjoy the harvest!!

Please keep the images coming. They feel quite goodly on the eyes.
Hugs and kisses,
Gwenguin

  Barbara wrote @

I am fascinated and truly impressed. From a family that watches our feetprint, I am always pleased to hear of other’s efforts.
Bo

  Heather Blakey wrote @

This is just beautiful Mari. It is so exciting to see another aspect of your life. What a beautiful blog you are creating here.

  traveller2006 wrote @

This sounds a fascinating garden, I hope you will share some pictures of the crops as they mature. It sounds as if you live in a wonderful part of the world

  traveller2006 wrote @

PS I love the photo you have used for the header

  shewolfy728 wrote @

What a wonderful garden, Mari. And I really like your new blog look. I hope the storm this weekend didn’t wash out anything.

  aletta mes wrote @

what a wonderful garden and a superb blog. I plan to come back often and check on your progress.

  lorigloyd wrote @

Mari, you should post frequent pictures of this garden plot from this vantage point so we can follow the progress of the Three Sisters.

  imogen88 wrote @

Well Mari, I just loved this place, especially the thing about the “Three Sisters”. You look great as well, absolutely contented. Would love to follow your progress too, so keep us posted.

  marimann wrote @

Lori~ thanks, that’s an excellent idea and I’ll pass it on to the photographer (my husband!).
Imogen~ Thank you for the compliments, I am very happy in our new garden. New post coming soon, and hopefully some rain too.

  Fran wrote @

Thank you for your garden, so far away and yet so close. I found the layout most interesting. My mother, an eastern Canadian always planted her pumpkins under the corn hills. Fran

  Vi wrote @

Yes, please do keep us posted. I’d like to see how your garden progresses. You look great… so comfortable in your role as gardner, as a tiller of the soil. It’s so back to basics… a place we all need to return to whenever we can.

  jan2 wrote @

How incredible to have this lifestyle surrounded by new growth whilst unearthing past treasures. You do look wonderfully contented – working on the land and watching what you plant come to fruition must be a fulfilling experience.

  porchsitter wrote @

Hi Mari,

You’re blog is just beautiful and I admire your dedication to the natural life. You are a blessing to the earth. I wish you sunshine and rain at the proper times and a healthy crop.

Prayers and blessings,
Believer

  BYOB « She Brings Me Water wrote @

[…] is not enough space in between the corn and bean mounds to plant the squash (here’s a link to the spacing guidelines we followed).  The spaces between need to be bigger or space needs to be […]

  Abundance, Fear and Moonflowers « She Brings Me Water wrote @

[…] Nature, Food, Life If you’ve been following along with this blog from the first post (The Nearby World), you’ve read about our neighbor, the one who’s been planting a very large garden for […]

  Not quite so contrary « She Brings Me Water wrote @

[…] after much weeding of the garden-space and making our hills (go here to see what I’m talking about), and after “all danger of frost has passed” (as the […]


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