Three Sisters Companion Planting

There were a couple things I tried differently this year.  One of them was a Three Sisters planting.  I’ve not tried growing corn up here before.  I’ve been wary of it blowing over, but I thought maybe this method would help it to hold up better on our windy hilltop.

A Three Sisters planting is basically alternating hills of corn and squash, with pole beans using the cornstalks for a trellis.  The directions I followed were found on this site.  They had good measurements and diagrams. 

I followed it pretty closely, however I planted more corn to a hill than they indicated.  It only called for four, but I planted twelve instead.  So far this has not been a problem.  I was doubtful that only four corn plants would be able to properly pollinate each other, given the distance between the mounds.  Also, I did not want to assume that all four would germinate in the first place!

I’ve got a variety of different things growing in the squash mounds, not all of them squash.  I planted mini pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins, sweet dumpling squash (they’re so cute), french melons, canteloupe and also watermelon.  The watermelon have proven themselves to be the thickest growing vine and an effective living mulch.  The canteloupe are thriving.  I can see so many melons setting on them and they will be ready here in probably less than a month.  I am really looking forward to those.

Now my beans, those are coming along, but have not really grown as fast as I thought they should.  I planted Nickel beans — a slender, white, heirloom Appalachian cornfield bean.  Fortunately I didn’t plant the whole package, so if they fail and I cannot save seed from them there’s always next year.  The instructions were to plant the beans when the corn reached 4″ tall, but it seemed like they took forever to germinate.  I think maybe I should have either soaked them first or kept the ground watered until they sprouted.  Maybe they’ll catch up.

So far so good.  I like this arrangement.  It makes efficient use of my garden space.  We’ve had a couple windy storms already and the corn stalks have held up very well.

I think it may end up being difficult to get in there to harvest everything when the time comes.  It’s very dense!

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