Much of the food grown in our edible landscape is perennial. We have fruit trees, nut trees, and long-lived and self-seeding greens: sochan, nettle, wood sorrel and lamb’s quarters, to name a few. Once established as part of the landscape, perennials and self-seeders won’t rely (much) on human hands. Convenient! But annual crops are an important part of the landscape, too. Inter-cropping the annuals with the perennials can be beneficial to both.
This year I wanted to make a “milpa.” This is a term for the ancient practice of interplanting corn and other plants in a way that benefits the ecosystem. It’s commonly called the “three sisters” although we have more than three sisters, and even a few cousins 🙂 Wild raspberries and strawberries, yarrow and goldenrod for the bees, and many greens, including lamb quarters, lady thumb, and sheep sorrel, all play their parts.
We mow the meadow, so creeping perennials with robust root systems tend to win out. Last November, in order to kill the grass we cut a 30′ x 30′ section as low as possible to the ground, and then mulched heavily with grass clippings, leaves, and wood chips from a hardwood we felled nearby. This worked well to delay the emergence of grass in spring, but it didn’t kill it completely.
So far so good! Stay tuned and we will see what we get.
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