From Garden

 

[Updated below] When I picked up a copy of Edible Estates (not a recommendation BTW) a while back, I came across the "three sisters" concept and decided to try it. We had our front lawn terraced over winter and I confidently expect never to mow it again, given its being buried under compost, cardboard and about 10 cm of wood chip mulch.

 

We plan to plant fruit and nut trees next winter but for now we have dropped a bunch of tyres onto it, filled them with Earl's Own Garden Mix (EOGM) and dropped in pumpkins, corn and beans.


So far its a success, they do seem to appreciate each other's company, the beans use the corn to climb on and in the process bind the corn stems together for support while the pumpkin shades the ground and suppresses weeds.

Although different stacks are behaving slightly differently, in the ones above the corn and the beans are going well and the pumpkin is lagging a bit, in this one, the one on the left is similar but in the two on the right, the pumpkins have gone nuts and the corn is struggling a bit.

From Garden

The lush growing season is perfectly shown in this one.

From Garden

The rhubarb on the left is always big but now its rampant, the lilies are in full flight, as are the flaxes, buried in the left is a tyre with 4 recently planted rock melons going well, the kumera in the middle is looking pretty happy (that is growing 2 year old tupu that I found left over from last year), and the Austrian Oil seed pumpkins are enormous and ripening already.

From Garden

 

The funny looking frame is for cucumbers which are also going well. We sowed straight into EOGM at the base on Tuesday evening last week, by Thursday evening we had 4 seedlings and now all 9 are through.

[Update]

When sowing into the tyres the optimum seems to be about 5/6 corn plants with 1/2 cucurbits sown on the north side of the tyre and 3/4 beans sown on the south side where the shade will keep them protected.

Looking at the production I would expect to get around 12/15 cobs per tyre, maybe 4 pumpkins and about 2 kilos of beans per plant.

Extrapolating that to a novice garden you could lay down 4 tyres in an east/west line which till take about 3 metres of space. I'd put them on the south side of the garden to maximise sun. Then add 200 litres of rich soil (50 litres or so per tyre) because the corn and pumpkins are gross feeders, water well and let them go to it.

You should expect about 50 cobs, 16 pumpkins and maybe 24 kilos of beans. Not bad. Of course you'll spend the winter renovating the soil, but what the heck.

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Comment by Megan on December 23, 2010 at 12:41pm
thanks Earl, your plants obviously thrive on your mix. The bottom layer of my dog poop worm farm is almost ready to harvest, just a bit too wet still. Will wait another month or so and get sieving. Have never tried growing spuds in tyres, will have to give it a go.
Comment by Earl Mardle on December 23, 2010 at 11:56am

Hi Megan.

 

The mix varies a it but always includes

  1. Some clay well mixed in (I live in GI so we have PLENTY of that) - about 25%
  2. Compost (my own if possible but I'll buy in some garden centre stuff to bulk up if needed) another 25%
  3. Sieved chicken run soil (includes chook manure, topsoil from the run, decaying veg matter from all the weeds I fling over the fence and rotting wood chips) 40% or more
  4. Some gypsum/dolomite to help keep the clay from clogging - handsful
  5. Some Agrissentials RokSolid - about 150 gm
  6. A bit of worm cast from the dog poop worm farm - as available
  7. If possible, a handful of charcoal.
I mix it all either in my soil factory or the brilliant Narra Barra I bought last year and bingo. I've also found that growing spuds in tyres can convert what was pretty ropey, dusty, clay into beautiful soil in one crop. I then cycle that into the soil factory, amend and extend then back into the garden.
Comment by Megan on December 23, 2010 at 10:08am
Looking great, is Earl's Own Garden Mix a secret recipe or can we share?
Comment by Earl Mardle on December 22, 2010 at 11:32am

Hi Angie.

 

More good weather than actual gardening skill I suspect. Throw enough seeds at the landscape and something will grow. Big task at the moment is trying to keep the baking soda on to inhibit the mildew.

 

You guys must come for lunch in the new year.

Comment by Angie Gibbons on December 22, 2010 at 9:48am

Garden is looking great!

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