…but the weeds didn’t care. We were in Pineville, NC and Seagrove, NC from the 7th to the 16th of June. The corn in the Three Sisters garden was about 3-4 inches high and the evening before we left, we planted lima beans and green beans in the mounds around the corn. When we got back, the beans were coming up but they and the corn were struggling because it had not rained (or rained very little) during the time we were gone. But, as I said, the weeds didn’t mind the lack of rain at all and took advantage of our absence to try to take over the garden. The picture above is me pulling weeds from the mounds. Rod hoed in the rows between the mounds, as we had decided not to use a tiller or other “mechanical” devices to weed. We used hoes, cultivators, rakes and our hands.
We also, as I think I mentioned before, won’t be using chemical sprays for weeds, bugs, critters, etc. In the other garden areas we have, we’ve used tobacco juice (soak tobacco leaves in water and spray the plants with it) and Dial soap spray (liquid Dial soap diluted in water, this is good for everything from bugs to deer) to good effect, but we always hope that by maintaining a healthy, natural environment for the plants, that they will be strong enough to fight off bugs or that “good” bugs will proliferate to take care of the “bad” bugs. And while we’re on the subject of good and bad, let’s talk about those weeds. We eat weeds. Or, I guess I should say, we eat plants that are regarded as weeds by many people. These include poke, wild spinach and lettuce, and purslane; so while some of the “weeds” we were pulling went into the compost pile (like the nut grass), the wild spinach was eaten for dinner and the purslane, which is doing really well in this garden, goes in our salads. The picture following this paragraph shows some purslane at the base of some corn plants. We also have morning glories, some that we have left where they came up to provide some color in the garden. All of the above came up on their own, volunteers, we call them, we didn’t plant them. They were gifts.
Also doing well in the Native American garden: the row of sunflowers we planted on the north edge, a couple of Swiss chards we transplanted from another garden (the Swiss chard has been our best “cultivated” crop so far this year), two tomatoes, and six gourd plants that, when we transplanted them from near the house, we were hoping were “volunteer” squash (yellow or zucchini) plants, but they are ornamental gourds. We’re not sure why there were so many of these volunteer gourds sprouting in a dirt pile near the house. More gifts, I suppose.
As for the lack of water, Rod set up a long hose out to the garden and we watered after pulling up most of the weeds. He’s also been carrying wheelbarrow loads of mulch from various piles around the yard to help keep the moisture in. We have had some rain in the past few days, so the corn is a couple of feet high now, and the beans are putting out their tendrils for climbing up the cornstalks. The next major step is to make the mounds for the squash, they go in-between the corn/bean mounds. We have yellow squash, acorn squash and pumpkin seeds ready to plant, and would like to plant some zucchini too. We know it seems late in the season to be planting squash, but awhile back we read something we’d never heard before, and that is to treat your squash as a fall plant, in order to avoid the “squash vine borer”. We’ve already had these in our gourd plants; they dig into the vines at the base, and eventually eat out enough of the vine to kill the plant. So we are going to try planting the squash late, as if it were a fall crop, and test the theory.
It’s been two weeks now since we returned from our trip, and here’s the garden, mostly weeded, some mulch down, looking happy.