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three sisters planting Toplef10three sisters planting 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

three sisters planting I22gcj10three sisters planting 14dhcg10

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three sisters planting

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Post  bpbdrummer 3/21/2010, 11:56 am

Does anyone do this in their SFG? I was going to put the beans with the corn and now I'm thinking I may as well add the squash and do the whole three sister style.

accoding to some other garden sites "Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix
nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot
by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also
help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to
blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a
living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture
from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of
survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage
predators from approaching the corn and beans."

three sisters planting 3sisters
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Post  argardener 3/21/2010, 8:26 pm

Just read about the 3 Sisters planting myself today and am curious myself. Will be watching with you for a response. three sisters planting Icon_eek
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Post  dixie 3/22/2010, 12:59 pm

Don't plant beans with each corn stalk! I did that the first time & I had a major jungle. My grandparents always grew beans on the outside rows in the corn field, with pumpkins thrown in (very) occasionally.
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Post  gridgardener 3/22/2010, 1:45 pm

to do the three sister in square foot gardening you need to use
bush beans, bush squash, short variety corn. You also need min 10 ft x 4ft bed to do it.i spaced out it in diagram.
if do not use bush beans, bush squash, a short variety of corn, all you get is mess since original system was intended for beans for drying,corn for drying and a vining winter squash for winter storing. ever thing was harvested fall after frost.
ps i will post diagram of how to plant the three sisters in sqf garden later.


Last edited by gridgardener on 3/24/2010, 3:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post  argardener 3/23/2010, 11:12 pm

Looking forward to your diagram. I would like to try this year.
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Post  gridgardener 3/24/2010, 3:31 am

three sisters planting Threesisters
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Post  chocolatepop 3/24/2010, 9:51 am

yay! that is so cool! is this how you did it last years? any pictures?

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Post  gridgardener 3/24/2010, 10:32 am

sorry no pictures
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Post  tash 3/25/2010, 10:07 am

does it' kinda defeat the idea of 3 sisters if you use bush squash and beans?
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Post  Retired Member 1 3/25/2010, 10:17 am

Here's how Mel recommends the Three Sisters planting method on the web site:

Three Sisters - Corn, Beans and Squash

The three sisters refers to a Native American tradition of planting corn, beans, and squash. The corn is in the center, the beans are planted to grow up the corn for support, and the squash surrounds the circle.
The three sisters can definitely be planted in a SFG either a 3x3 or a 4x4. Here's what Mel suggests: In a 3'x3 box plant the center one with 4 corn plants. Then I would plant four or eight pole beans at the extreme corners and then two squash plants in opposite squares and then perhaps flowers in the other two corner squares, this would leave four of the in between squares as extra room for the squash vines to spread out as they circle the corn, and for the bean roots to spread out underground. A 4'x4' box would be the same, except start out with corn in the middle 4 squares.

This is a fun planting tradition to implement into your own SFG.
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Post  gridgardener 3/25/2010, 4:39 pm

tash not really since my description of original reason of the three sisters does not fit modern uses of beans,corn and squash.
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Post  Retired Member 1 3/25/2010, 8:29 pm

@tash wrote:does it' kinda defeat the idea of 3 sisters if you use bush squash and beans?

You'd still get the benefit of the added nutrients to the soil and the natural mulch, but I really like the idea of using the corn as trellises. The beans would stabilize the corn so you wouldn't have the problem of it falling over as gridgardener mentioned. I can't eat corn, but think I might try this with okra instead. Year before last my okra reached 8' and I had to use a stepstool to harvest it. I can just imagine beans climbing it and squash acting as living mulch. I guess I could call it two sisters and a cousin. three sisters planting Icon_smile
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Post  titans01 3/26/2010, 8:04 am

Well it's not exactly 3 sisters but I thought this plan was interesting: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/05/free-garden-plan-gourd-garden.html
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Post  nancy 3/26/2010, 9:14 am

Titans01 - my early spring garden is from there - it's the fall garden with some minor tweaks. I love those ladies!
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Post  gridgardener 3/26/2010, 10:23 am

belfrybat beans may stabilize the corn but they may also pull the ears off which another reason bush beans work better
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Post  Lavender Debs 3/26/2010, 10:46 am

Have you had that happen grids? I'm the only one who has pulled ears off in my garden. I would go bush beans because I don't feel like I'll be lost in the sisters web as much. I quit doing this because squash didn't ripen up in my mountain garden (for all its vines) and the beans kept the ground too cool around the corn where I was.
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Post  tash 3/26/2010, 1:03 pm

@gridgardener wrote:tash not really since my description of original
reason of the three sisters does not fit modern uses of beans,corn and
squash.



Then why do it at all?



belfrybat wrote:
@tash wrote:does it' kinda defeat the idea of 3 sisters if you use bush squash and beans?

You'd
still get the benefit of the added nutrients to the soil and the
natural mulch, but I really like the idea of using the corn as
trellises. The beans would stabilize the corn so you wouldn't have the
problem of it falling over as gridgardener mentioned. I can't eat corn,
but think I might try this with okra instead. Year before last my okra
reached 8' and I had to use a stepstool to harvest it. I can just
imagine beans climbing it and squash acting as living mulch. I guess I
could call it two sisters and a cousin. three sisters planting Icon_smile

I like that. let us know how it turns out.
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Post  gridgardener 3/27/2010, 8:53 pm

Lavender Debs i had ears pull off once before i went with bush beans. As for the idea that beans would hold up corn, a wind storm later in season proved that theory wrong to.

the reason to do it is the plants have different root depths and nutrient needs so they do not compete against each other.

If have good set of companion plants it gives you great benefits.
A bad set you better off not planting at all that season.

I have great set of 40 companion planning diagrams like my version of three sisters. But I am saving most of them for my book which will have
over 200 companion planting diagrams.
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Post  dovrar 4/21/2011, 7:41 pm

When do you plan to publish the book?
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