Plant a three sisters garden

Ned Birkey

Despite last week’s sunshine and mild to warm weather, Aaron Wilson of Ohio State University (OSU) and others are forecasting a slight cool down in temperatures for the next two weeks. Although there is still a very chance of frost, no one is forecasting it, so many people are busy planting all warm season garden crops.Black cutworms (BCW) are a hot topic in field crop newsletters from Iowa State, Purdue and Ohio State. This pest of corn and other crops migrates north with spring storms and winds from the Gulf states to the Midwest. Trapping is done with a pheromone trap, using a lure with the scent of the female moth, attracting the male moths to the trap. Because this pest is sporadic and unpredictable from year to year, trapping is an effective tool to determine whether or not we have an infestation. With mild to warm temperatures and weather, corn may grow quickly enough to escape black cutworm feeding. Ohio State is trapping for BCW but as of May 9 had not captured any moths in Lucas or Henry counties near Monroe. Dr. Christine DiFonzo of Michigan State University (MSU) developed a Handy Bt Trait Table for field corn and also directions on how to use it. Also, she developed the Handy Bt Trait Table for sweet corn. Not all commercially available field or sweet corn has traits to mitigate BCW. Remember that MSU and OSU collaborated on a new field crop insect management guide which can be downloaded at crop development may seem slow but will accelerate quickly now that plants are into the Feekes 7 stem elongation stage with the second node visible. With Memorial Day approaching, many years we seem to get some hot weather just as grain fill begins. Dry weather is one part of the plant disease triangle that can help ward off diseases though farmers should keep sprayers at the ready. Soon the Penn State fusarium head scab infection model will be useful to predict the incidence this year for our area. Past years have shown different predictions simply due the proximity of wheat fields to Lake Erie.Planting at MCCC Student Ag Farm kicked into high gear last week with some vegetables and field crops. Planning is underway for a possible late August field day, though details are not complete. There are some new and different projects this year that will be showcased if all the work can get done. This year there will not be community garden plots available as there is no MSU/ MCCC IAT program coordinator to shepherd this opportunity.MSU Consumer Hotline is available to help homeowners with home yard and gardening questions. The hotline number is 888-678-3464 and the person who answers may be able to help or direct the caller to the right person. Many people who have insect, weed and disease problems are first directed to send a clear camera photo of the specific problem. If that doesn’t work then folks can still utilize the MSU Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, with details at: corn, pole or green beans and squash have been called the three sisters going back to Native Americans who interplanted this trio because they thrive together. This method of interplanting introduced biodiversity and provides a balanced diet from a single planting. Corn offers support to beans as an older sister does. The beans are a legume which fixes nitrogen from the air to the soil that benefits all three plants. Squash vines shade the soil, keeping it cool, moist and helps prevent weeds. Together, the three sister plants provide both sustainable soil fertility as well as contribute to a healthy diet.A newer version of the three sisters is companion gardening, which is about learning which plants are friends or foes to each other.