August 10, 2018

Garden Mojo: Beans, Corn, and Squash

Only if every silk is pollinated will the cob have a full compliment of kernels.

This year we are growing corn for the first time in a long while. I am glad we did because I have discovered some new garden mojo. 

While working in the garden, and as the corn grew taller, I tuned into the magical music of wind rustled corn leaves. It is a sound both soothing, and invigorating, like falling rain, or ocean waves pounding on a sandy beach.

I have never stood in the middle of a corn field on a windy day, but I imagine that it must sound like a million pairs of hands clapping. Corn leaves in a symphony of rustling, applauding the forces of nature that allow it to create life in a uniquely beautiful form.

Pole beans starting up the corn stalks.

I discovered recently that each golden silky hair that emerges out of the cob's tip is connected to an individual kernel inside. Any silk that does not get fertilized by pollen falling from the male parts above, will result in a underdeveloped or missing kernel. 

I guess that makes sense from a scientific perspective, but it seems like more garden mojo to me.

This year we teamed our rustling corn patch with winter squash and pole beans. These are the plants of Three Sisters fame, developed by various North American native groups over thousands of years.

Native Americans know garden mojo, and have long considered the Three Sisters to be sacred. For a good reason - corn, beans and squash make for magical gardening, and nutrition.

"The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. 
The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. 
Corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and all eight essential amino acids, allowing most Native American tribes to thrive on a plant-based diet."
- from Wikipedia 

"Rustle, rustle, rustle." 

That is the sound of garden mojo at work.

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