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September 8, 2011

Three sisters garden project

This year I want to try out the "three sisters garden". This type of garden combines corn, pole beans and squash in the same area. The tale is that native Indians grew these vegetables together because corn provided support for the beans, beans provided nitrogen for the corn and squash, and squash provided shade and moisture for the corn and beans.

For this project I have selected Golden Bantam corn, Kentucky Wonder beans and Grey Zucchini Squash, not for any particular reason, but because I had the seeds. The only requirement, in my mind, is that beans have to be pole beans, not bush beans, otherwise there is no reason to plant them together with corn, as bush beans do not need support.

First, you need to seed corn. It needs at least some time to get established before beans choke the stems. So, seed the corn into the garden or in containers (I do) and then replant into the garden. Right now is the prime time to seed corn. Let corn grow to about six to twelve inches tall before planting the beans.

At this point we are done, waiting for the corn to establish a little bit before seeding beans and squash.

The layout and spacing of three sisters garden is something like this:

In a four-foot square, plant four corn plants in the middle, a foot apart. After they get to about eight inches tall, plant six beans around each corn stalk. Then, plant three squash plants in a circle around corn and beans. This plan provides for a space-saving productive garden, at least in theory. I will keep you posted on the progress of three sisters garden.


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