These are fun days for garden planning and for many of us planting. If you’ve never experimented with companion planting before, a great way to tiptoe in is with a Three Sisters Garden where the sisters refer to the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, corn, and climbing beans (usually tepary beans). The square foot method diagram for a 4 foot x 4 foot plot above shows you one way to lay out your crops. It shows 4 squash plants but you may want to cut the number back to 2 or even 1 depending on the size and type of squash you’re growing.
The idea behind this plan and all plans involving companion planting is that the crops benefit from each other. The pole beans don’t need poles because they can climb up the corn stalks. The beans return the favor by adding nitrogen to the soil for the corn which is a heavy feeder. The squash and its prickly leaves deter pests and prevent weeds from growing. Basically, it’s a real world horticultural example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. If you give it a try this growing season, let us know how it turns out for you.
The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age," The study’s lead author, Dr Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL’s department of epidemiology and public health, told the Telegraph. "My advice would be however much you are eating now, eat more.
We’re so excited and proud to be able to support 160 great food garden projects this year through our Sow It Forward minigrants program. We’re featuring just a handful of the projects here. For the full list, see here: http://kgi.org/garden-grants-2014 Thanks to all 910 of the groups that applied. You’re really making a difference through your work!
Here’s a visual take on the possible impacts of California’s drought care of Mother Jones. I knew that California grows roughly 33% of the nation’s produce but I was surprised to read just how much of certain crops it produces: broccoli (95%), tomatoes (90%) and lettuce (74%). You might want to grow some extra of those in your garden this year. You can read the accompanying article here.
Yesterday’s chilling New York Times op-ed about California’s droughtshould be required reading for anyone interested in our country’s food security. It’s no longer a safe bet to assume that the Central Valley can keep on producing one-third of the nation’s produce. Whether you do it out of patriotism or common sense, this would be a good year to start a kitchen garden if you haven’t before or expand a garden if you already have one.
Wondering if you can get by using some of last year’s seeds? The short answer is “maybe.” For a more in-depth answer, check out this helpful chart produced by Colorado State University. See the column on the far right for seed longevity. Of all the seeds I’ve planted, I’ve found that parsnip seeds are the least viable after a year or more.