Planting List and Plant Sources

We’ve broken down our planting approach into two general areas: a native mini-forest of edibles along the west side of the site and a patch of cultivated crops on the south portion of the lot.  Some of the cultivated crops are also planted around the sign for visual interest and along the fence since we ran out of room on the south part of the site (and this seemed like a good place for taller crops in the sun).

Native Mini-Forest of Edibles

The trees, shrubs and groundcover in the mini-forest (still quite young of course) so far consist of:


Asimina triloba (Paw Paw), Juglans nigra (Black Walnut), Quercus macrocarpa (Bur Oak), Prunus serotina (Black Cherry), Prunus spp (Wild Plum), Carya illinoinensis (Pecan)


Sambucus canadensis (Elderberry), Ribes odoratum (Golden Currant), Rubus fruticosus (Blackberry), Rubus idaeus (Raspberry), Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)


Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry), Viola sorona (Downy Blue Violet)

Our sources for the trees, shrubs and groundcover were Bowood Farms, Forrest Keeling Nursery, the Spring Wildflower Market at Shaw Nature Reserve (most of the plants purchased here came from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery), and the Missouri Department of Conservation.


berry patch and a couple of the trees

berry patch and a couple of the trees



Cultivated Crops

While we learned in conversations with archaeologists and an ethnobotanist that the Mississippians did not farm the “Three Sisters,” which is a polyculture used by other Native Americans consisting of corn, beans and squash, they did cultivate a groups of plants known as the Eastern Agricultural Complex.  These plants consist of Cucurbita pepo (Squash), Helianthus annus (Sunflower), Chenopodium berlandieri (Lambsquarters or Goosefoot), Hordeum pusillum (Little Barley), Polyganum erectum (Erect Knotweed), Phalaris caroliniana (Maygrass), and Iva annua (Marsh Elder).  Nonetheless, we wanted to explore the Three Sisters since it is designed for the crops to mutually benefit each other, and polycultures like this represent sustainable approaches we are looking to dig into (pun intended).  Also, it was difficult to find seeds for many of the plants in the Eastern Agricultural Complex, so we looked for near or distant relatives in their place, and explored some relatives more if many species were available (such as chenopodium spp), using heirloom varieties where possible.  In the next couple years we would like to try to find a source for seeds of the actual species the Mississippians cultivated, if they are available.

We got most of our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, but also from Botanical Interests, Seeds of Change, and Horizon Herbs.  The following are the plants we were able to obtain seeds for and grow this season:

Helianthus annus: Sunspot, Miriam Edible Sunflower, Tarahumara White Shelled Sunflower,

Cucurbita pepo: Green Striped Cushaw Squash, Jonathan Pumpkin/Cushaw White Squash, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Sweet Dumpling Squash, Cream of the Crop Squash

Cucurbita mixta: White Crookneck Pumpkin

Zea mays: Cherokee White Eagle Corn

Phaseolus vulgaris: Bolita Bean, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Missouri Wonder Bean

Chenopodium spp: Lambsquarters, Cherry Vanilla Quinoa,

Amaranthus spp: Hopi Red Dye Amaranth, Kerala Red Amaranth

Atriplex hortensis: Red Orach

corn, beans and squash

corn, beans and squash


the beans are climbing the cage around the corn --once the corn gets taller, hopefully the beans will climb the corn stalk

the beans are climbing the cage around the corn –once the corn gets taller, hopefully the beans will climb the corn stalk




quinoa and red orach

quinoa and red orach

Look for progress pictures on our Facebook page

(Also, stay tuned for more updates about events and plants on our blog and Facebook page!)


Mayor Recognizes Sustainable Land Lab Projects

Thanks to all of the attendees and volunteers who came out on Saturday to support the Mighty Mississippians, as well as our fellow Land Labbers and the Old North House & Community Tour.  The neighborhood was bustling with activity and the day was a great success!

Mayor Francis Slay attended the official kick-off ceremonies (rescheduled from rained out date in April) for the Sustainable Land Lab projects and presented the winning team with recognition trophies.  Rachel and Natasha accepted on behalf of the Mighty Mississippians.


Our trophy now sits in the Christner office (in good company with our LEED Gold award from last year).

photo sml

The Mayor, attendees, neighbors, and volunteers visited all of the Land Lab lots for a tour and description of implementation at each site.




After the Mayor’s ceremony and visit, it was time to get to work.

after work

We had lots of beans and corn to be transplanted to our site.  We used sheet mulching, a gardening technique that requires no digging into the ground, and imitates a natural process in the forest.



(Go Laurel!)


We layered cardboard over the existing ground to prevent weeds from growing up through our beds and layered a raised bed planting mix from St. Louis Compost over the cardboard.


Once the cardboard and soil was laid, the planting began.  Rows of corn were planted with 2-3 bean plants around each corn stalk.  The corn will act as a pole for the beans and later, squash will be planted to serve as ground cover.  These three plants will have a symbiotic (mutually dependent) relationship.


 After planting the corn, we installed wire cages not only to protect the corn, but also to provide a temporary climbing structure until the corn is tall enough to climb on. After that we planted the beans.




Once everything was planted, we layered a few sheets of newspaper over the soil to help keep back any weeds that may have potentially snuck into the planting mix, and then covered with mulch to help retain moisture. (We used Natural Mulch from St. Louis Compost.)


We had lots of visitors from the Old North House & Community Tour throughout the day.



Emily planted red amaranth around our sign.  It’s very small right now, but can grow up to 4-5 ft tall!


A huge thank you to our partner Tarlton, who donated tools, equipment, and of course, a helping hand!



The rest of our site is making progress as well.



Thanks again to all of our dedicated partners and volunteers who came out and helped, as well as those who have contributed along the way.  We are making great progress and looking forward to the continued transformation!  It’s exciting to be part of such a revitalizing and rewarding project!