Thursday, May 21, 2009


This morning I went to my parents' home in Illinois for round two of our garden project. Today I planted seeds utilizing the aforementioned "three sisters technique." I got started by raking the soil in the two square beds, mounding it in the middle and then flattening the top; I did the same for the rectangular bed, except that I made two mounds, instead of one. On each mound, I made several indentations for seeds, starting with one in the center, then six around that, then six more in an outer ring. In the inner rings I planted a mix of sweet corn and pole bean seeds in the square beds (with about three corn seeds in the center and then three pole bean seeds around the corn seeds). I only planted sweet corn seeds in the rectangular bed. Then in the outer rings I planted something different on each mound: pumpkin, watermelon, zucchini, and a combo of honeydew and cantaloupe.

I covered the seeds with peat moss, then watered them to keep them in place (it was very windy at my parents' house today). Then my dad and I laid weed barrier fabric down in the aisles between each bed. We held the fabric down with bricks until my dad has time to mulch the top.

This evening, Steve finished putting the grids on two of my raised beds, I cleaned up some yard messes, did a little weeding and, once the grids were all in place, planted several seedlings and all the potato pieces I had cut a couple days before and let dry. I now have about 60 percent of my raised beds planted.

I also planted two tiny chamomile seedlings in a container for my deck. I plan to take my oregano and lemon balm and put them in containers, too. I think from now on I'm going to grow all my herbs in containers on my deck, since so many herbs seem to spread so readily, and since they will be easier to bring indoors in the winter if I want to keep growing them inside.

In the next round of planting, which I hope to do before memorial day, I'll most likely be planting seeds -- okra and carrots definitely, and maybe watermelon and peas. I'll probably also plant the sunflower and marigold sprouts I have now in my indoor greenhouse.

Oh, and I caved today and bought a real "topsy turvy" tomato planter when I was picking up two bags of milorganite (to fertilize my pathetic-looking lawn) at Puhl's True Value. It was about $13. I think I'm going to plant one of the Wisconsin 55 tomato seedlings I got from the West Allis Farmers Market in the thing. Should be interesting to compare how my homemade upside down tomato planter compares to the real deal.

One more thing I splurged on today: 10 goldfish for our pond, as well as two bullfrog tadpoles with hind legs just beginning to sprout. Bought them from Aquaterra on North Avenue. While I was there I was tempted by an adorable, dandelion-eating Russian Tortoise. Kinda pricy, but sounds like a gentle, fun family pet. I'm thinking about it, but then again I'm so busy with my dozens of very hungry caterpillars that I'm not sure I need another pet right now.


  1. Fascinating! thank you for sharing this method; it will be useful when I start my raised beds this weekend.

  2. PS; Fence the tortoise in your yard. They do travel.