Sunday, April 18, 2010
2 of 3 sisters: Navajo corn and Hopi pintos
Navajo copper popcorn and Hopi pinto beansOn the 10th I planted my corn. This year it's Navajo copper popcorn instead of Hopi white flint corn (I just don't make my own tortillas as much as I had planned, and Marcy's air popper is effortless) and it's planted a week later than last year. I soaked and planted the little kernels with Hopi pinto beans I've saved from the past couple years harvest. I left the third sister at of the mix (squash), but I'll take the roll of that third sister: week killer. The other sisters provide shade/structure (corn) and nitrogen (beans), in addition to the wonderful edible seeds. The corn seeds I just got from Native Seeds/SEARCH and the beans the same, two (seed) generations ago.
Planting stick and seeds, ready for planting
After tilling up the garden bed, I quickly plant the seeds through the dry crumbly surface layers and into the deeper layers still moist from the winter snowpack. Navajo and Hopi varieties of corn are known for their ability to emerge from up to a foot of planting depth, though most literature I've read about these Hopi varieties details that they are usually planted in sandy soils. I've found the un-wetted soil fluffed up by a rototiller, despite having considerable clay content, must be similar to the untilled sandy fields of a traditional Hopi farmer. Seeds have little trouble emerging from deep within my canyons soils. I plant 2 corn kernels and one bean seed together into these deep moist layers of the soil with a traditional Navajo corn planting stick. With one hand and two strokes I create a depression, drop the seeds, and pack them into place. Crumbly soil falls into the hole, perfectly covering the seeds as I retract the staff. My planting stick was graciously given to me, along with a host of other garden tools, by the previous owner of my house, Ms. Begay. It's handle is worn to the shape of a strong hand, and it's point smoothed by earth-- both ends crafted perfectly by use long before I ever lay a hand on it.
A timeless stance
Nothing I know would plant these seeds better than this timeless piece of cottonwood.
UPDATE: The first sprouts emerged around May 7th.