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Sustainable organic gardening questions.... Options
John Stiles
#1 Posted : Monday, January 18, 2010 8:57:55 PM
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I'm estimating a pickup truck load of compost-able materials per person. Maybe a bit less, more is better.

I would rotate crops rather than co-mingle.

#2 Posted : Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:37:29 AM
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While rotating crops is important, wouldn't the co-mingling that Jac is doing be a partial version of the three sisters method (with one sister missing)?  I always try to plant pumpkins or squash around the corn... If I don't, the raccoons have a feast.  This year DH put the corn in while I was working on something else, didn't get the vining crops in.  Had enough corn from 5 20' rows for two or three meals.  The raccoons were very happy! 

I wouldn't worry about seperate compost piles for different nutrients, apply the compost and the plants will take what they need.  Rotate crops, and what that particular crop doesn't need will remain until there is a crop that needs it.  If there aren't signs of disease, I put the crop remains into the compost pile so that some of the nutrients that were taken up by the plants can be returned to the garden.  I figure that folks planted gardens for many years without chemical fertilizers, I can too. 

John Stiles
#3 Posted : Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:01:25 PM
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Not to topic an interesting specific planting technique, the co-mingling of crops; with a site specific native agricultural approach, the 3 Sisters. In the Adirondacks the short season allows short weak vines and corn, perhaps.

I'll say that my experience keeps long tough vines out of my corn as it will pull it down and make harvesting a chore fraught with breakage. I do co mingle or companion plant in various ways. I usually look for non competitive species, then check companion planting for compatibility.

I also co mingle to speed harvesting, as in salad greens or basil and tomato. I plant onions around my asparagus; beets or nasturtium on the outside edge of corn; late lettuce amongst fruiting peas.

This coming year is looking good. I've already u-bar dug the entire garden and outside the fence. Since last the the wild red mustard and lambs quarters were so good and prolific I'm going let them own large portions of my garden. So my gardening is almost complete now. I'll just plant a small late greens bed and a few semi-normal heritage vegetables, a bit of corn and buttercup squash.

#4 Posted : Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:24:51 PM
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Soooo not nice John!  My garden is under about 3 feet of snow right now!  I don't do the three sisters, just putting vining crops around the perimeter of the corn to keep raccoons out.  Then add lots of compost.  I put a few tablespoons of ground up eggshells in with the tomatoes last years when I transplanted.  First year with them in one of my double dug beds, too.  Didn't have a speck of blossom end rot and the plants kinda scared me.  They got huge and were a beautiful color, I was afraid they were getting too much nitrogen.  They blossomed great but were slow to produce tomatoes.  Guess it was our cold summer holding them back, every one had problems. 

#5 Posted : Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:24:51 PM
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Is there a way to have a to have a totally self-sustainable, organic garden without ever having to go to the store to purchase 'organic gardening' materials?

I have a compost pile- I work the organic material into my garden and make organic 'fertilizer tea' for my plants, I use grass clippings for mulch, etc.  Does this provide adequate nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium?  Or should I make three differenent compost piles- one for nitrogen rich scraps, one for phosphorus rich scraps and one for potassium rich scraps? and from those three, I could make custom mixes for each plants needs?

Last year I planted sweet corn and pole beans together- the theory was that corn needs nitrogen to grow and the legumes would put nitrogen in the soil PLUS the corn stalk would provide a stake for the pole bean to grow on. Didn't really work... planted the beans too late and they never grew.... but I intend to try again this year...

Are there any really good articles to read (ME has so many!!) or does anyone else have any really good tips? Any thoughts or comments are welcome! Thank you!

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