Last year some friends and I experimented with a three sisters garden. The concept was so full of potential- a garden comprised of three compatible plants, corn beans and squash, who grow together, supporting each other to produce marvelous vegetables. But although my intentions were good, my timing was not and a month away in June coupled with several shorted stints out of town resulted in a garden overgrown with weeds, beans that never stood a chance and overripe corn.
But this year it’s gonna be different. An eternal student in the school of gardening, I’ve learned last year’s lesson and have amended my gardening/ summer schedule around the premise that the garden’s schedule comes first- not mine. And so I willingly submit myself to the mercy of mother nature’s timing.
And this week she was telling me it was time to get on with it and prepare for a second crack at the three sisters. Gardening friends Laura and Dustin again generously offered up part of their garden for the cause and last Friday I set off on the first phase of our gardening adventure.
Step number one was a trip to Rock Lake where a serious winter kill suffocated hundreds of fish. Their stinking, rotting corps littered the shoreline all around the church camp, the smell of their mouldering flesh raked at my nostrils like a dull blade across a rose petal. It reeked! But fish makes great fertilizer and so with great gulps of air, I did what I had come there to do. The hulking carp make a sickening sound as they slid from my gravelly shovel and thudded with a sickening wetness into the three-layer-thick garbage bags I’d brought as transport. The gruesome task complete and the car windows down the fish made their way to Laura and Dustin’s to await their fate.
The second step was the garden itself, still littered with last year’s failures. I spent the first hour picking the larger scrub from the earth and the second hour tilling the rest of it under…it was a beautiful day and as I plowed through the loamy earth I mused, “there’s no where else I want to be.”
The third step was absolutely disgusting. We had to bury the fish. All of the sources I’ve read say that corn grows best when planted over a dead fish. Well, I had the fish so now it was time to get growing. Laura and I dug graves for our fishy friends right down to the clay and then, resisting the urge to vomit, slid the rancid fish from the plastic bags into their final resting place.
With the fish safely stowed under a foot of earth we could get on with planting. Three corn seeds to a mound, three squash seeds in between. And once the three sisters garden was done we planted carrots for good measure. And now we just wait and hope that the seeds germinate, the weather gets warm and the dogs don’t dig up the fish and roll in them. I can’t wait to see how this garden grows.