Planting a garden of vegetables shoulder-to-shoulder, or close cropping as it is called, is not a new idea. If you have a small plot or space to grow a garden of food, close cropping of vegetables is an in expensive and easy way to increase your harvest, specially if you have a small plot.
Here are some examples of how you can grow an abundant vegetable garden in your limited garden space.
How To Grow More Vegetable In Less Space
The Native Americans introduced the concept of close cropping to European migrants to North America, starting in the mid-1700’s.
The Natives were said to have planted corn, beans and squash interdependent and with great success harvested edible crops from the same space.
The nitrogen-rich beans used the corn stalks for climbing, were as the ground-clinging squash with its large, prickly leaves extinguished weeds and reduced water evaporation from the soil.
Corn requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, therefore it benefits the most in this shoulder-to-shoulder gardening.
Planting a vegetable garden in a square or diamond pattern, such as is done extensively in places like the United Kingdom where spacing is limited, is a great way to practice close cropping.
How To Close Crop A Garden
When purchasing seeds, be sure to get pole beans and not the bush variety. As for the squash seeds, purchase the trailing variety and not the compact variety. The best time to plant your vegetable seeds depends on the planting zone or hardiness zone you live in.
Also the night temperatures need to be above 50 degrees, and again depending on were you live in the U.S. that could usually occur in late May, to early June (though with global warming you could start planting by mid-April to early May).
Link Here For The USDA Hardiness Zone Map 2016 – We need to say that this map by the USDA that is serviced at Greener Earth Nursery is really cool. After you have linked to the page, you will see a US map, and just below it is a box were you put your zip code (above box it reads: USDA Zone For Your Zip code). After you click”Go,” you are taken to a page of the state you live in with surrounding towns and cities hardy zones.
Choosing Your Seeds
Unless it doesn’t matter to you, be sure to choose non-gmo heirloom seeds. After reading the article, please watch this brief, and very informative 48 minute video by Heirloom Seed Expert Stephen Scott on GMO Farming.
Here are some links to on line stores to buy your certified non-gmo heirloom seeds…
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
Her – Beginner’s Garden Collection for a small plot of land is only $11.75 for 1 packet and it includes…
- Annie’s Lettuce Blend
- Annie’s Radish Mix
- Basil, Genovese
- Black Beauty Zucchini
- Contender Bush Bean
- Muncher Cucumber
Other on-line sources include…
The owners of this seed company say,” We ARE American seed farmers not just seed re-sellers. We know what we grow”. Their moto is – Trust the Farmers who GROW, not those who only SELL the seeds.
Terroir Seeds LLC
They note that it was Buffalo Bird Woman of the Hidatas tribe who was said to have planted sunflowers with the original 3 Sisters Garden.
She put to use old agricultural practices in the fertile bottom lands of the Missouri River.
Choosing And Preparing Your Garden Plot
When choosing an area for your close cropping, test to see that the area receives at least 8 hours and less than 6 hours of sunshine everyday. Have some compost on hand and rake it into the soil as you break it up. and rake the soil.
Next, build a mound about 12 inches high and between 18 inches and 3 feet in diameter. If you’re in a dry area, flatten the top of the mound and make a shallow depression to keep water from running off.
Plant four corn seeds in a square at the top of the mound. Be sure to space the seeds 12-inches apart and 1 inch deep. After planting the seeds, cover with soil and saturate with water 2-inches deep.
Weeding and Planting the Pole Beans
When your corn has sprung from the soil and has reached just 4-inches above the soil, remove any weeds that have grown on the mound. Now plant 4 pole bean seeds 6-inches from the base of the corn and 1-inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil and water the mound.
Your corn has a head start, so it will be tall enough to support the pole beans once they have sprouted and start crawling up its stalk.
Weeding and Planting the Squash
About 7 days after the beans sprout, remove all of the weeds that have grown on the mound. Now plant the 6 squash seeds 1-inch deep and 1-foot from the base of the corn and the beans. Cover the seeds with soil and water the mound.
Weeding and Watering
Continue weeding the mound until the squash takes over and shades the new weeds from the sun preventing them to grow. Keep the soil moist to about 6-inches deep.
What if you don’t have a plot of land? Do you have a sunny balcony? Or live in an urban apartment were you can garden on the roof top? How about a community garden? Do you have a sunny patio were you can do some container gardening? If so then here is how you plant your 3 Sisters Garden of vegetable seeds.
Planting A Three Sisters Garden In Containers
If your outdoor gardening space is limited, or you have no plot of land, you can still have a vegetable garden. How you may ask? Will it won’t be a traditional garden per say, but you can create a mini three sisters garden in an outdoor container, such as a 1/2 of a large whisky barrel.
To simulate this way of planting, use a large container with holes or gravel in the bottom and fill it with potting mix and compost.
Once you have the container filled with soil, follow the above instructions, but plant only 3 corn seeds instead, and thinning to 1 corn stalk, 2 pole bean, and instead of squash, you can plant 1 mini pumpkin seed. Place the container
where it will receive at least eight hours of light, and no less than six hours of sunlight each day.
Gardeners Supply Company has a great selection of pots and planters. They even have Season-Extending supplies, which is a great advantage to container gardening. Follow this link to view what pots and planters might fit your vegetable garden container: Gardeners Supply Company