Making a “Milpa” – An Replace on our Edible Panorama


A lot of the meals grown in our edible panorama is perennial. We’ve fruit bushes, nut bushes, and long-lived and self-seeding greens: sochan, nettle, wooden sorrel and lamb’s quarters, to call a couple of. As soon as established as a part of the panorama, perennials and self-seeders received’t rely (a lot) on human arms. Handy! However annual crops are an vital a part of the panorama, too. Inter-cropping the annuals with the perennials will be helpful to each.

Making ready the bottom for sowing corn

This yr I wished to make a “milpa.” It is a time period for the traditional observe of interplanting corn and different crops in a method that advantages the ecosystem. It’s generally referred to as the “three sisters” though now we have greater than three sisters, and even a couple of cousins 🙂 Wild raspberries and strawberries, yarrow and goldenrod for the bees, and plenty of greens, together with lamb quarters, girl thumb, and sheep sorrel, all play their components.

Preparations for cornfield. Photograph taken final November

We mow the meadow, so creeping perennials with sturdy root techniques are likely to win out. Final November, to be able to kill the grass we minimize a 30′ x 30′ part as little as potential to the bottom, after which mulched closely with grass clippings, leaves, and wooden chips from a hardwood we felled close by. This labored properly to delay the emergence of grass in spring, but it surely didn’t kill it utterly.

One block of rising popcorn

In a while, a great deal of compost had been added on high to dam out solar from the creepers and feed the crops we wished to encourage. Overplanting, after which thinning, can discourage weeds. It additionally retains the bottom shady and moist for the younger crops.


Corn must be planted in dense blocks to encourage pollination. It emerged after Spring rains–no watering wanted. The corn is now within the reproductive stage, with tassels releasing pollen each day and cobs thickening because the kernels develop.

Our meadow “milpa” in late July. Winter squash, beans, nettle, and naturally corn.

To date so good! Keep tuned and we’ll see what we get.