Alexander Rodewald wrote:Thanks for raining on my parade, Brandon! haha (jk)
You're right about the promises being for Israel, but I believe that many of the mechanisms for blessing are baked into the systems of nature/creation. I'm not trying to be legalistic, but am trying to live abundantly by working with the creation's natural (God-designed) tendencies.
So I didn't heed the rule to include adequate amounts of dead material along with green and the compost got super rank. I'm talking maggots and all!
Can I start adding dead material now and recover it or do I need to dispose of this and start over?
Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that brown boxes can be used in place of dead leaves and straw. Is this true? As far as I remember I just need to remove any labeling and tear it into small pieces before adding. Is this correct?
Alexander Rodewald wrote:I read in the Jewish Torah (or the first 5 books of the Old Testament) about commands with promises attached. The one that peaked my curiosity, as it comes to regenerative gardening/farming, was the command to let the land rest every seven years. In essence, it lies fallow.
The promise in Leviticus 25:18-22 says: " ‘So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. ‘And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest."
Since the Jewish calendar year starts over every Autumn on the 1st of Tishri, which was 7 September 2021, I harvested everything I could prior to that. Then, I just let it all go! Since then, I haven't planted a thing, nor pruned.
What's been interesting are the observations that I've been able to make as I watch the land do what it wants to do. Wild grapes exploded on the south side. Wild blackberries and strawberries came up near my driveway. I even found fruit trees (peach & pear) on the North end where kids had thrown their pits. These trees were already 7-9 ft high when I found them! So, guess where I'm going to plant my grapes, berries, and food forest?
Today is the 1st of Tishri once again, so I am ready to plant/prune! As for the fertility, I'll have to follow up next year with an update. If it works, it's just one more tool to enhance fertility without chemicals!! A tool that used to be a mainstay, but has been forgotten due to intensive farming practices. I'm sure someone with more knowledge can expound.
Technically, this only applies to growing on land within Israel. But I suppose the same benefits can be had on one's own property!
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Everything in your garden might be suffering, and you might not notice if the whole garden were affected. I don't use materials from the city because of the totally non-vetted nature of the inputs to their system. I've seen too many ruined gardens in my neighborhood.
In any case, each species, each variety, and even each individual plant will have different susceptibility and growth requirements.
It looks like the beans are growing in a plastic tote. That's tough growing conditions for plants in general.
Is there some sort of test for the soil to find out if there are toxins in there?
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:It looks to me like something is wrong with the soil. The light green (yellow) color of the leaves isn't usual for that species. Weird colors in a plant's leaves are often due either to something toxic being in the soil, or to too much/little of an essential nutrient, or too much/little water, or the wrong pH, or any combination of these.
In cases like this, I find it easiest to start over with different soil.
Yikes! We got a bunch of this soil from the city. My parents are using it too. Several of the plants had stalled during a cold spell we got and several of the leaves turned yellow. Now everything seems to be improving with warmer temperatures. If it was something toxic wouldn't it be garden-wide since everything is planted in the same soil?
So I built our new garden beds with compost that we bought from the city and I'm thinking it's not very fertile. I direct sowed and all the seeds sprouted but after developing 1 or 2 sets of leaves, pretty much everything has stalled. The leaves have a slight yellow tinge and they've been creeping so slowly for like 3 weeks now.
So I decided I need to add some fertility to the soil and I've heard so many good things about worm castings so I ordered some.
Was that the right move? Will worm castings provide enough fertility to get things growing again?
I've started a compost bin using an old rain barrel with holes drilled on the bottom and sides. For the browns I have dried leaves and for the greens I'm using leaves from a yucca plant and kitchen scraps. Whenever I add new greens I always cover with a thin layer of leaves.
My question is when I add chicken scraps do I need to add water to the bin each time I add browns? I ask because they're very dry.
Maureen Atsali wrote:I do 3 sisters, but I have never tried to line up varieties for a simultaneous harvest. I usually go in and harvest beans first, then maize, and lastly squash. And we eat leaves from the squash all season long, as one of our favorite green veggies. So we walk through the plot all the time. Even if we accidentally step on a vine here and there it doesn't seem to deter or harm the squash, which tend to put down extra roots along the way anyway.
I couldn't leave my beans out. I also seem to have the varieties that break open and drop their seeds if left too long. And mildew and insects also become a problem when left on the field.
Can you describe your spacing? I place corn and beans in the same mound and space those 4' center to center. Squash is planted in its own smaller mound and staggered between the corn mounts. See the image attached. The yellow circles are corn and blue are squash. With this spacing, things get pretty crowded in there. I couldn't imagine traipsing into the mix until things start to die back a bit. Perhaps yours is arranged differently?
Brandon Greer wrote:As far as yield goes, how did Turkey Craw compare to Genuine Cornfield? I'm reading that Turkey Craw is 80 - 100 days. I'm guessing that the low end is for greens and the high end for dry? Did you leave any for dry beans and if so about how long did they take to reach that point?
The Turkey Craw seemed a lot more productive on a yield-per-foot-of-row basis, but it's kind of hard to say because I didn't keep records, and the fact that I'm a really inadequate weeder could disproportionately affect yields. That said, the Genuine Cornfield were planted right next to the Turkey Craw, so direct environmental factors will have been largely the same. The Turkey Craw at least left me with the impression that they were really teeming with pods, whereas I can't say the same for any of the others. I'll say, too, that I have noticed significant differences in plant growth in a quite small space in our garden (different soil types), so that could be a factor, though if it was an obvious one last year I didn't make a note of it. In short, apparently: gee I don't really know.
We ate some as green beans, but most were left to dry. I don't recall exactly how long it took, except that the Turkey Craw seemed to mature over a considerably longer period, and even after harvesting dry beans off some vines I was harvesting green beans off others. There were some Genuine Cornfield that matured relatively early, but most seemed to hang on the vine forever before they finally dried.
I read that the Genuine Cornfield is very much like a pinto bean. How would you describe the taste and use of Turkey Craw? Sorry for all the questions.
Wes Hunter wrote:I've never had too much trouble with dry pods popping open (though it does happen--dependent on variety, I think), but I have found that dry pods that get rained on are quite likely to discolor and/or develop mold. And in my experience the beans will mature over the course of a few weeks, anyway. The same will be true of the squash, and the corn for that matter, so it's not as though you'll have one or two "harvest days" and then be done. Point being, I think you're just going to have to deal with getting in there and stepping carefully and harvesting things as they're ready.
Turkey Craw is a good cornfield bean too, for what it's worth. I've found them to be very productive. We also grew Genuine Cornfield, Cherokee Cornfield, and Good Mother Stallard last year; all did well.
As far as yield goes, how did Turkey Craw compare to Genuine Cornfield? I'm reading that Turkey Craw is 80 - 100 days. I'm guessing that the low end is for greens and the high end for dry? Did you leave any for dry beans and if so about how long did they take to reach that point?
I'm looking to change the beans and squash which I grow in my 3 sisters garden this year. I'm looking at Genuine Cornfield Beans (for dry beans) which shows to be about 80 days and Blue Hubbard Squash which shows as 110 days. In order not to disturb the squash, which is planted at the same time as the beans, I would have to allow the beans to sit in the field an additional 30 days. Would this be ok to allow the beans to stay out there this long after finishing?
The last couple of years I've grown a 3 sisters garden with moderate success. On the North side of the garden, I've been planting sunflower seeds and at the advice of a neighbor am now considering replacing those with amaranth or at least adding them to the mix. I've never grown amaranth so was wondering if anyone had some advice. Could this work? Do they grow tall enough to be planted on the North side? Are there certain varieties I should be leaning toward?
Alder Burns wrote:I have had success with three sisters gardens, and derivations on them, in Georgia for years. The main point to bear in mind is that the goal was durable, storable produce for winter use and beyond....in other words dry corn, dry beans, and hard-shelled winter squash. Yes, it grows up into an impenetrable jungle....that's the point.....the space is fully occupied, "stacked and packed", giving weeds minimal opportunity to get a foothold. You go in and harvest everything at once after first frost kills all the green growth down. The corn must be planted first, and I would say it should be a foot or two tall, before adding the others....but this is in the South with plenty of growing season....perhaps it needs to be closer together in time further north. The danger is the bean vines, or even the squash, overwhelming the corn before it gets a chance to grow up. Even later on, vigorous bean vines can break down the corn. So you need good old heirlooms with stout tall stalks....things like "Hickory King" or "Sweet Bay". Wimpy 5 foot sweet corns or short hybrid popcorns and such like won't do. Layout helps too. Don't plant the corn in rows. Plant it in "hills"....that is, groups of 3-4 stalks together, then leave 3-4 feet of space either way to the next hill. The bean vines tangle the stalks together and make a strong support. If your beans look extra vigorous and likely to break the corn down, tying the cornstalks together near the top, sort of like a tipi, adds extra strength.
When you have it down, it's a fun design to play with, changing spacing, planting times, and adding or substituting other things.... Largely it's a matter of architecture, and similar plants can be added or exchanged as desired. Sunflowers, especially the tall ones, might have been used traditonally, and fit in very well, making a stronger support for beans than corn does. Vining cowpeas do as well, or even better (especially far South) than ordinary dry pole beans....they seem more tolerant of rain and humidity as they are maturing. The ground cover can be just about any cucurbit, although most of the others (melons, etc.) need to be harvested fresh which means thrashing in there to pick them. So plant them along the edges of the patch. Sweet potatoes are another possibility....... The Central American version of this idea is called milpa, and just about everything went into it....tomatoes, peppers, and such, and tropical perennials like banana and papaya and sugar cane, which eventually filled up the space while the annuals went on to a new plot......
According to what you've written here, I may have planted my beans too early. I planted when the corn was about 4 to 6 inches inches tall. Now that the beans have sprung up I am worried. They are now about half the height of the corn in just a few short days.
Currently, I have everything planted in mounds with 4 ft center-to-center spacing for the corn and one bean for every corn planted halfway down the same mound. The squash, cucumber and watermelon mounds are staggered in between the corn mounds. The cucumber and watermelon are only planted around the far edges because I anticipate harvesting those before the rest is ready.
I planted 4 Cherokee White Flour corn seeds per mound(replaced my Ried's Dent Corn) and GaGa Hut Pinto Pole beans in the inner parts and Rattlesnake Beans around the edges so I could pick some greens throughout the season.
So I wonder if I should remove the beans and start again when the corn is taller. What do you think?
As I discussed in another thread, i will soon start my first guild using a dwarf fruit tree (haven't decided which yet). I'm wanting to add nitrogen fixers for obvious reason but have several questions.
1. How do they actually work? Does their mere existence in the guild spread nitrogen to the other plants underground through their roots or must they be chopped and dropped?
2. One thing I plan to have is a perennial clover to serve as a living mulch as well as a add nitrogen. If I do some form of chop and drop using another plant (comfrey for example), will dropping over the clover smother and kill out the clover? In other words, does chopping and dropping in an area with living mulch work?
3. I'm still struggling to choose an appropriate N-fixer understory herb or shrub for my guild. Some others were suggested in another thread but all seem too big to be under a dwarf tree. Can someone offer some additional recommendations? I would prefer it to offer something edible to me as well but that is secondary.
I like to mix and match based on function and apply a pattern. i rely on what i can easily propagate or have laying around my nursery in the moment.
tree planting is usually done during fall or late winter. depends as always on your climate and your desires around summer management, irrigation, and if you are planting bare root or not. You can get nitrogen fixers going on the outside of guild and i put everything in at once unless i am planting into tough rhizominous grasses in which i sheet mulch heavily for a period, usually 6 months, then drop the plants in. no fun weeding.
Great reading on your article! Thanks!
On the illustration you attached is shows plants sitting down at the bottom of the swales. Wouldn't this be a problem for most plants since the water sits there for quite awhile (at least it would in my clay soil!) after a rain?
Thanks again. Thanks to your info, I feel like I got a pretty good understanding and feel a bit more comfortable getting started.
I was reading that planting trees is best done in the fall. Is that right?
When should I start preparing the area? I have a pretty good source for compost, so I just plan to get it started by bringing some of that in. Do I just plant everything else the same time I put the tree in or should I get something else in the ground before the trees are put in?
Thanks again for the follow up info. I found another drawing/diagram which I've attached. Is this layout another way of doing a guild or is it just another way of looking at the same layout?
Assuming it's the same, it looks like I've overlooked a layer.
Since I was wanting a dwarf or semi-drawf, I assume I just skip the canopy layer and just start with the Low Tree Layer.
So then the Shrub layer is what we've been discussing most, with low bushes. The root layer I guess would just be the very edge and maybe some type of annual carrots or potatoes or whatever. The ground cover, we decided clover would work best. It seems I've just overlooked the herbaceous layer.
So if my shrubs are just an arrangement of the following: Beneficiary Insect Plant, Berry, Mulch, Nitrogen, Pest Repellent, would the herbaceous layer be arranged the same way just one row closer to the outside edge? I hope this question makes sense. I think in very linear terms so I'm trying my best to organize and compartmentalize everything, so I can understand it and implement it.
Wow thanks for the wealth of info! I've reread a few times and it will take a bit to sink in.
I have a few follow up questions (I'm sure I'll have many more after I fully understand your post):
1. For the berries, I've never heard of currants and gooseberries etc., so I'm not sure if they will be something I like. If it's all the same, I'd prefer something more familiar. Are there any other common berries that would work okay growing under the tree? Blackberries (one of my favs) come to mind.
2. Seaberries as a nitrofixer sound like a real winner since they'd add an additional berry plant in addition to fixing nitrogen. Is the amount of nitrogen they provide up to par with some of the legume options?
3. For the bee attractant, would borage be the better option? Or is there another option other than the examples shown on the diagram that would work better?
4. For ground cover, the diagram doesn't show that so I hadn't really thought about it. Will the clover just fill out the areas in between the bushes and stop at the grass inhibitor barrier? Also, is the clover perennial?
5. For insect repellent, are there any that stand out as more effective? Aside from chives, dill and cilantro, I can't think of any herbs which would be very useful in my everyday life. So if none of them are any good at repelling insects, then I'd just go with any plant that repels insects the best.
I'm sure it goes without saying but I forgot to mention before, I would like as many perennials as possible.
I'm using the image below to help as my guide. This template has really helped my wrap my head around this idea.
According to the image attached, I've listed each element below. Most of the elements are still question marks for me. Hopefully, someone can offer some advice. I would prefer to choose thing which not only serve their purpose in the guild but are also edible:
Tree: Peach or Plum
Accumulator: Comfrey (everyone else suggests it so it seems like a no-brainer)
Bulbs: Garlic and Onions
Bee Attractant: ?
Berry: ? Would strawberries, blueberries be acceptable here? If so, it's an easy choice but I have a feeling it's more complicated than that.
Nitrogen: ? Would prefer something edible like a perennial bean or pea.
Pest Repellent: ?
Blake Wheeler wrote:The idea of a guild isn't set in stone, it's just grouping plants that can be of benefit together. You're on the right track. Like a bush underneath the fig that requires a little less light, thus the fig leaves shield it. Groundcover to hold in moisture....you get the idea.
I can't honestly say about figs, they don't do particularly well here. Actually have a Chicago hardy fig that may have been killed off from some unseasonably cold weather we got.
Not sure how much use a guild would be to the actual tree though. Figs are drought tolerant as is, and I'm not aware of particular pest pressures they would face. Not to mention they're not pollinated by bees (flys or small wasps I think) so bring in pollinators isn't much of an issue either. The guild in this case would serve more to benefit the other plants and cram more into less space I would think.
Thanks for the reply. That's actually good news because figs aren't really my favorite. I only chose it for the reasons you mentioned. I'd really rather go with peach or plums.
I am ready to build my first guild and I think I want to start with figs because my neighbor has them on his land and so I know they grow well.
I'm looking at a few guild plans online and none of them are for figs but I wonder if simply changing out the different elements of the plan with things which I like and that are similar in purpose (ground cover, bush, tree etc) if I will achieve a moderately successful result? Or is each element chosen specifically and not replaceable?
And can anyone make some recommendations as to what might grow well with figs? Please also include what the particular purpose of your suggestion is...That'll help me wrap my ahead around how this all works. It's been a very confusing undertaking for me honestly!
Is it a good or bad idea to grow grapes on field fencing? I have a nice sunny area on the front border of my property and was thinking about planting some grapes there. Will it hurt the fence in any way?
Joseph Lofthouse wrote: Some beans are dual purpose. I think that I'd put Rattlesnake into that category. I think that protein levels of dried seed would be about the same between varieties. Green beans are mostly water, so in comparison to dry beans they are not a great protein source.
Thank you for all the great info! I really never realized beans had so many variations.
To make sure I understand the above quoted comment, you are saying that Rattlesnake beans grown to a dry bean probably have about the same protein as other common dry beans such as pinto?
Being very new to the whole gardening idea, i am struggling to understand the differences between dry beans and green beans besides the obvious. Are they essentially the same if left to dry long enough or are they totally different? My whole life I had no idea they were related in any way.
If I take Rattlesnake Beans for example and let them mature into a dry bean, will they have the same amount of protein as something like a pinto bean for example?
Greenbeans aren't as high in protein as dry beans correctly?
Charli Wilson wrote:Soap causes oils and fats to break up, so causes the wax on the insects skin to dissolve- and so they dehydrate and die- it only really works on soft-bodied insects (like aphids, whilst things like ladybugs seem to be unaffected), and it only works whilst the soap is wet (once dry it becomes harmless). Afraid I don't know if a lye-heavy soap would be any better than regular soap (my knowledge of chemistry doesn't stretch quite that far!). People claim that adding various essential oils to their soap makes it a better insecticidal soap (I think things like tee-tree are meant to hang around on the plant and further repel insects, and some essential oils are considered insecticidal).
I just spray washing up liquid at my aphids... I've never actually tried the essential oils thing!
I'm using some soft soap (store bought) in a mix with onions, garlic and peppers and it's working great. Wish I would have known about it last year when my garden was pillaged and decimated. Now, that I see it works, I want to make my own soap so I don't have to wonder what chemicals are going on my plants. Anyways, thanks for the info. Good stuff to know!
Ann Torrence wrote:Beans that don't shatter (spontaneously open) is the key to harvesting this mess. I'm trying a bunch of new-to-me beans from Native Seeds/SEARCH, like this Taos red pole bean.
4" sounds about right. One great thing about that Painted Mountain corn is it can go into 50 degree soil. That gains me a couple weeks on the whole operation.
And Joseph is spot on - I do this in a space about 10x20. If I had to grow for subsistence or market, I would modify it for ease of cultivation, etc. From what I recall about the southwest natives who used similar growing techniques, these fields were planted before the monsoons of mid-summer, but then they went on their seasonal migration to higher altitudes, so the fields didn't get much tending until they cycled back in the fall for harvest.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Brandon Greer: Days to Maturity on seed packets is somewhat arbitrary and capricious. It can be useful if comparing varieties from the same seller if they have measured them in their own fields. Mostly seed companies just parrot what their supplier told them... Also DTMs are garden dependent. For example at my place 70 day tomatoes take 100 days. For dry beans and dry corn the Days To Maturity estimate includes drying in the field...
Dry beans and field corn are dried in the field before harvest... And drying is continued after harvest. For me, harvest is mostly driven by getting the almost dry plants harvested before the start of rainy weather.
I've never successfully grown a 3 sisters garden (or anything for that matter), so I don't quite know how it will work out with regard to timing and harvests. As I understand I won't be able to venture into the mix to harvest anything until it's all finished so choosing the right plants and timing them correctly so they all finish about the same time is important.
Really all I know right now is that I am leaning toward Cherokee white flour corn. Some sites say it's 110 to 115 days another site says 120 days.
To my questions:
1. I've read that field corn is left in the field to dry before harvest. If the beans and squash are ready before the field corn dries, can the beans be harvested while leaving the corn in tact to finish drying? Or is that not practical? From what I understand it's just important not to try to harvest until the squash is ready because they don't like being stepped on.
2. Can anyone recommend a pinto pole bean that will go well with the Cherokee white flour corn?
3. When looking at the days till harvest for a dry bean does this include the drying period in the field?
4. I've read to plant the corn first, let it grow to 4 inches then plant the beans and squash. Does this sound about right?
Ann Torrence wrote:And here, because of our wind and aridity, I have much better success if I make a waffle pattern in the plot and plant the corn an inch or so below grade, because that holds the moisture for germination just a little bit longer. I do circles about a foot in diameter, plant 4 corn seeds and thin to 2-3 if they all come up. I went into my 3 sisters strategy in depth on my blog a couple years ago. Kind of a rant on using the method to grow sweet corn, zucchini and string beans is akin to using a vacuum cleaner to cook a turkey but also some other observations about density, etc.
Ann, I enjoyed your article which you linked. I am actually curious about the nixtamlization process which you mentioned and posted in another thread (https://permies.com/t/46365/cooking/Making-Hominy-Wood-Ash-Lye) asking about the risks associated with it. I am guessing that it didn't burn a hole in your stomach after eating?
I'm also curious if your goats liked the squash or perhaps you found another use for it? I am not a huge fan of it but like the idea that it keeps out critters but what to do with all the squash? I still haven't decided.