Ok, this one really doesn't count as a 'hack', since this is how the original Indians would grow their crops...
We read about this "Three Sisters" garden a while back in a book about Tecumseh and thought it would be cool to try. The Three Sisters refers to the growing of Corn, Beans, and Squash together in a garden plot for a mutually benefitial arrangement.
First step was we mixed a bunch of Horse Manure up with garden dirt, and mounded the mix into a mound about 3 feet diameter and 18" or so high.
The Indians were fond of putting small fish in with their seeds, so we took an old Shad (about 2 lbs) and chopped it in half - for the 2 mounds we made.
Here we are burying the Shad into the mound, rather unceremoniously. Just get in there, and make our corn grow!
And grow it has! As previously posted, these corn seeds are ones we dried from last year's harvest. The other mound is with store-bought seeds, just to hedge our bets. The corn was planted in the top edge of the mound - about 16" in diameter. Now that the corn is up, tonight we will be planting Green Pole Beans around in the sides of the mount. The beans will add nitrogen to the soil, and we will let the beans climb up the sides of the corn as they grow - thats why the corn gets the head start.
The final step in the planting is to put in squash around the base of the mound. The squash is to help provide ground cover and save moisture, and also to discourage animals from the beans and corn. We're going to try pumpkins instead, and they are already planted and growing well. We will encourage the pumpkins to cover the mound.
Stay tuned to watch how well it works! It has been a great way to help the kids come up with ideas of what else to grow together. Our garden is already organic... now it is a bit historic!