Making a “Milpa” – An Update on our Edible Landscape

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.

Preparing the ground for sowing corn

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.

Preparations for cornfield. Photo taken last November

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.

One block of emerging popcorn
Later on, loads of compost were added on top to block out sun from the creepers and feed the crops we wanted to encourage. Overplanting, and then thinning, can discourage weeds. It also keeps the ground shady and moist for the young plants.
Knee-high!
Corn needs to be planted in dense blocks to encourage pollination. It emerged after Spring rains–no watering needed. The corn is now in the reproductive stage, with tassels releasing pollen daily and cobs thickening as the kernels develop.
Our meadow “milpa” in late July. Winter squash, beans, nettle, and of course corn.

So far so good! Stay tuned and we will see what we get.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Make a Seedling Bed and Lay in It

Black walnuts and hickory nuts, some foraged, some purchased, to be planted on our 109 acre property

We are starting a seedling bed within our small forest garden.  It will consist of apricot, peach, and plum pits, as well as walnuts and chestnuts.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Welcoming Back Monarch Butterflies to Vermont

Last updated on August 4th, 2022 at 04:36 pm

Salesperson Alex with a butterfly taking cover from the rain, last summer

Each spring, Monarch Butterflies return to North America from their winter habitat. You may know about our tree-planting partnership with Forest for Monarchs in Michoacan, Mexico, but Monarchs need our support here in Vermont, too.

Milkweed is the host plant of the Monarch Butterfly. Mature Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of the plant, and larval caterpillars rely on the plant for the entirety of their diet at this stage of life.

Founder and CEO Peggy Farabaugh harvesting milkweed seed pods in the fall for spring sowing

Every year, we start milkweed seeds indoors, and also direct-sow them outdoors, in order to support the Monarchs. This year, we are also starting milkweed plants in small cells we have made out of rolled newspaper for ease of distributing them to the community. If these plants are to make a comeback in southern Vermont, they will need to be planted more broadly than just our 109 acres.

 

Salesperson Sean Henry separating milkweed plant starts from a tray of seedlings

Many in our small town of Vernon, Vermont have said that the milkweed plants which return every year will be the lasting legacy of founder and CEO Peggy Farabaugh. We are so proud of her!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Stonehurst Showroom’s Edible Landscape – Spring Has Sprung!

Last updated on April 22nd, 2022 at 04:19 pm

Enjoying our land on a dreary day

This year, we received a truckload of compost from a local rancher (the father of our fantastic intern Whitney—if you received a package of wood samples last year, she may have sent them to you). Tractor load by tractor load we are moving the compost to sunny spots on the property. Placing compost directly onto the grass eliminates the need for labor-intensive tilling.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.