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Getting Started With "The Three Sisters"

Apr. 17, 2018

Getting Started With "The Three Sisters"

Written by Lydia Serrano with research by Cassie Vander Meer (Slow Food USA)

Your arrived in the mail and summer is approaching. Soon it will be time to get to work in the garden! If your thumbs are not as green as you'd like, here are some simple tips to boost your cultivation confidence...shovel Slow Food

Plant what's best for your zone.

"The Three Sisters" are all warm-season crops which means that these are not the first seeds you'll plant this season. Start with cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, or broccoli—these do well in cooler soil, around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. How will you know? When it's time for swimsuits and flip flops, it's also time for "The Three Sisters!"

Here's a fun test that Terroir Seeds' Stephen Scott shared during our recent Plant A Seed: Food For Change Town Hall call: “To test the soil you can do the old English gardener's trick. Drop your pants and sit on the soil. If it's too cold to sit on, it's too cold to plant in!"

"The Three Sisters" will thrive in 75-80 degree heat. Learn more about plant hardiness for your zone so you can plan your cool- and warm-season crops accordingly. "Five to ten degrees cooler may mean the corn does not come up for three weeks. That's how significant a difference it can be," added Scott.

Good, clean, and fair...even for insects.

Once your seeds are in the ground, you'll need to consider how to protect them. There's a variety of natural insecticides which are super simple to make at home.

Now is also a good time to get that pet you were thinking about. Says Clark Harshbarger of the Natural Resources Conservation Service: “If you have goats or sheep, let them graze the garden. Try to use finished compost with manure amendments in it.”

Make your own compost and reduce food waste at the same time.

Did you know that worms love coffee grounds but they won't thrive in fats or animal products? Composting is EASY—especially if you keep in mind these handy dos and don'ts. There are a few rules but in general, the more ingredients you reuse, the more diverse your compost will turn out. Composting offers key benefits to gardeners: you can save money and cut down food waste. Familiarize yourself with the basics of composting so that your "Three Sisters" will flourish and grow!

Contemplate water and sunlight.

It turns out there is a right way to water your plants (in the morning, deeply, and as infrequently as possible). Plus there are tips to keep in mind for watering in summertime such as wetting leaves as little as possible to prevent diseases caused by excess moisture. The same goes for indoor plants as well.

While we're on the subject of water, you can find out how much sunlight your garden receives to ensure proper evaporation and the ideal location for "The Three Sisters" in your garden.

Plant A Seed!

If you plan ahead and prepare, then going organic will be a breeze. These final tips will have you well on your way to successfully growing the "The Three Sisters" in your garden this summer!

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