CTG 2014 Week 5: May 31 to June 5 – Planting Starts Round 2, Trellising Demo, & Starting a Three Sisters Garden


  • Planting & care for tomatoes, peppers, & curcurbits (Curcurbitaceae)
  • Trellising
  • Three Sisters Garden (TT)


  • Planting starts- Round 2
  • Planting leeks (EA)
  • Trellising communal beds
  • Planting corn
First radish harvest!
First radish harvest!
Radishes = smiles
Radishes = smiles

With week 5 of the 22-week Community Teaching Garden Program coming to a close, our students have completed the first series of planting and have begun to excitedly watch their garden plots’ progress.  We were fortunate to have some excellent weather this week, which certainly raised spirits midst the onslaught of the pesky mosquitos that seem to have taken up residence at the garden sites.  Our furry friend, Oscar, even joined us for Monday’s class at the Ethan Allen site to check out the sprouting results of our students’ diligent work.

Strawberry Youth
‘Strawberry youth’
Libby made an appearance!

Planting & Care for Tomatoes, Peppers, & Curcurbits:

After missing a class last week due to the holiday, the Ethan Allen Homsteaders had some catching up to do in terms of planting starts, and so the first order of business this Monday was getting some gorgeous tomato and pepper starts into the soil.  The starts included two types of slicing tomatoes, a variety of cherry tomatoes called Sungolds, serrano peppers, and Carmen sweet peppers.  Denise was careful to explain the importance of spacing the starts at least 1.5-2 feet a part, which is key to prevent the spread and exacerbation of fungal diseases, like late blight, by permitting better air flow.   In addition to the tomato and pepper starts, Denise provided some curcubit seeds to be planted in the northernmost quadrant of each garden.  Curcurbits, an abbreviation for Curcurbitaceae,  are plants that are a part of the gourd family that include cucumbers, summer squash, and zucchini.  The seeds of the curcurbits are intended to be planted in hills, although these do not always have to be raised depending on how local conditions affect drainage.   To round out the lesson on this week’s starts, Denise offered a quick demonstration on planting leeks, a member of the onion family, in one of the communal beds.  There’s already been talk of some Potato Leek Soup!!

CTG Leek Lesson 1
Lesson on Leeks
‘Carmen’ sweet pepper starts from Red Wagon Plants


With many of their starts and seeds already planted, the Tommy Thompson group began class on Wednesday with a hands-on demonstration of trellising in one of the communal beds with bamboo stakes (thanks, Libby!). Trellising is a great technique for keeping vegetables and fruits off the ground while supporting their upward growth, increasing production, and freeing up usable space within the garden.  Several of the students grabbed some bamboo and twine and assisted with setting up trellising for the sprouted beans that were planted in the first week of class.   Trellising is a very useful and popular practice within the gardening world and can employ a variety of materials, including sticks from your backyard!  To learn more visit: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/crops-and-gardening/trellis-fruits-vegetables-saves-space.aspx

Bamboo stakes are in!


Adding twine
The finished trellis

Three Sisters Garden (TT):

This season, per Steve’s well though out request, the Tommy Thompson site and class will be working on developing a Three Sisters Garden by planting corn, beans, and squash together.  The Three Sisters Garden, also known as la milpa in Spanish, is  a traditional planting system that was used here in the Northeast by Native American tribes, like the Abenaki, and is continued to be used by various indigenous groups of people in Southern Mexico where corn was domesticated thousands of years ago.  Although planting depends on regional conditions, the crops of a Three Sisters Garden are commonly planted in hills together to maximize the amazing symbiotic relationships they establish.  The corn provides a natural trellis for the beans to grow upward, the beans as leguminous species fix atmospheric nitrogen for plant use, and the squash’s large leaves offer shade that deters the growth of weeds.  This Wednesday, Steve led the way in creating some pretty perfect hills for planting and the students worked together to plant some sweet corn seeds, which had previously been soaked in water by Denise.  We are thrilled about this developing garden, and we can’t wait to see how it progresses.  In the meantime, if you’d like more information and history on the Three Sisters Garden, check out the Intervale Center’s informative online brochure on the Abenaki Heritage Garden at: http://issuu.com/jesshyman/docs/abenakigardenbrochure-2010

Kudos to Steve on the hills!!
Planting corn

With our first series of planting done, it’s only a matter of time before our students’ gardens begin to really shine!

Action shot of the clover patch’s haircut

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