By Tina Morgan
As the apprentice responsible for garden duties, I have taken the opportunity to learn new growing methods. Hilling potatoes, using a teepee made of branches for pole beans to grow on, and creating a trellis for cucumbers are some of these methods I have been exploring.
To hill potatoes, a trench is dug out in the middle of a row and the potato seeds are planted about six inches underground. After the potato plants start producing leaves, or until they are between six and eight inches tall, a hoe is used to gently mound the soil around their stems. This allows space for the tubers to branch out and grow to ultimately give a higher yield when it comes time to harvest.
In the center of the garden, I made a teepee out of sticks that the other apprentices and I gathered from the woods. I planted pole beans around the base of the teepee and was so excited when they started to climb up them. This method helps the pole beans get up off the ground so that they are able to recieve more sunlight for photosynthesis, escape pesky weeds, and create a higher yield of fruit. This in turn helps us more easily identify the beans when harvesting.
Lastly, cucumbers have intrigued me since I spent last summer volunteering at an organic and medicinal garden in the Ecuadorian Amazon. There, they had a very sturdy bamboo trellis built low over the cucumber beds. The cucumbers could climb on top of it and spread out to recieve more sunlight, space from invasive weeds, and protecting fruit. The cucumbers dangle between the gaps in the trellis to avoid an abundunce of moisture and prevent rotting. I attempted to recreate this trellis idea but only used what I could find and repurpose. With some twine, thin branches, and time it eventually all came together. I am proud of my shabby trellis and now that the cucumbers are exploring it, they are probably just as happy as me.
So far the garden has been time consuming but very rewarding with the pleasures of seeing how each and every plant is absorbing life from the sun, soil, and rain. I look forward to being able to harvest the fruits of our labor and enjoying their yummy nutrients!