Today was another planting day. We put our second bed of squash in which brings us to two rows of squash and eight rows of corn! The seed bed for squash is different than corn or beans, we are using the mounding technique with mounds three feet apart and sowing three squash seeds per mound. When the squash sprouts emerge and the first true leaves appear, we will thin the squash down to one plant per mound.
As the squash grows we will train it down over the neighboring two beds of corn, allowing the squash to grow underneath the corn and beans. With two beds of corn in between each bed of squash, this gives the squash room to sprawl 12 feet before reaching the next bed of squash while providing much needed shade to the soil beneath the corn and beans. Shading the soil keeps soil moisture regulated and helps shade out some weeds.
There is an old pebble-stone path that was previously used by Covenant House GA when their shelter was on this property, but has since become nearly overgrown with grasses, other weeds, and clover. Realizing how much extra work and new soil would be needed to remove this path, we just decided to split our fourth bed (squash) over to the other side of the winding path. We will loose our last squash bed for this plot, but with a total of 53 North GA Candy Roaster plants, and each plant yielding an average of 30 lbs of squash per season, there should be no shortage of this super sweet and award winning variety.
We also sowed the paths with white clover today. This technique is used by many farmers, and we decided to give it a try. The benefits of clover paths are five-fold: 1) it fixes nitrogen in the soil, a much needed nutrient for all plants; 2) it reduces weed pressure by competing for space and nutrients, as well as “mulching” or shading out weed seedlings; 3) it helps in retaining soil moisture by acting as a ground cover, reducing evaporation; 4) the white flowers are loved by a variety of pollinators, including the increasingly threatened honey bees; and 5) adds to the general biodiversity and beauty of the entire site!