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Three Sisters Square Foot garden

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Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  daisy0606 on 3/11/2013, 11:32 am

Okay... This is my first time gardening and I have decided to start with a square foot garden. I have been googleing a lot and am still a little confused. I would like to do a three sisters thing (corn, beans, squash) since what we like to eat fits in well to this. I have read opposing things on weather or not this works in a square foot garden and am still a bit confused on how to set it up. I want to plant baby pam pumpkins for the squash, and Silver Queen sweet corn for the corn. Not sure on pole beans yet( open for suggestions?).

So... has anyone successfully planted a square foot garden like this? What layout did you use?

I am doing a 4X6 bed. Here is the layout I drew up:

Any advice on changes to make? I appreciate all advice. Thank you!

Also if you do not feel three sisters thing will work well I will take advice on what else to plant with corn:) Thanks!

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/11/2013, 12:03 pm

daisy, we planted a three sisters garden in a bale bed two years ago. Wish I'd have known what is covered here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/2001-02-01/The-Three-Sisters.aspx because: the corn we planted was too short to support the scarlet runner beans. We did get some HUGE pumpkins, though. The Mother Earth News article taught me not to assume I had the correct combination. We will plant three sisters again this year, with tall dent corn, semi-pole beans and, like you, mini pumpkins. Best of luck and keep us informed of your SFG. Nonna

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  quiltbea on 3/11/2013, 12:11 pm

I'm curious as well. I want to plant 12 squares to corn this year and I'm positive I want to sow some pole beans when the corn are about 6" tall, but I'm not sure about the squash. Seems mighty tight in that bed (space will be 3' x 4').
Any recommendations from someone who actually did it in a SFG?

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Turan on 3/11/2013, 12:19 pm

What I have been reading is that the original was for flour corn that grows tall and dry beans, so not trying to pick sweet corn and green beans. Pole beans will over grow the corn. I have read of success for our purposes by planting bush beans with sweet corn.
My only suggestion for your layout is to take out the marigolds and expand the corn and beans into those areas.
You plant the corn first and let it sprout and get a few leaves, then plant the beans and squash.

May we all have success with our attempts sunny
I am trying this with a flour corn and bush beans and fava beans. Just the two sisters and an Old World cousin Razz

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/11/2013, 12:37 pm

One advantage of the squash is, by its prickley stems, it repels varmints trying to get at the corn and beans, therefore, it should be planted around the perimeter of your corn/bean plot. The corn should have sprouted up to around 8 inches before you tuck in the bean seeds. This year we are planting Cherokee White Eagle corn from Baker Creek, listed as having "good yields on sturdy stalks." Amongst them will be planted Feijao Fidalgo, also Baker Creek seed. Nonna

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  quiltbea on 3/11/2013, 2:06 pm

Turan.....Maybe we can ''top off" the pole beans when they reach corn height so they don't get taller.
I'm almost tempted to add one of two small squash types along the outside squares of the bed to see what happens. I have some Acorn squash seeds I haven't tried yet.
This is going to be a fun year for all of us. Let's post pics to share how we're doing.

Oh, another thought. In my plan I was going to have 3 tomatoes along the north 4 squares. Checked the dislikes list and corn and tomatoes are not friends so I'll put in sugar snap peas instead.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  daisy0606 on 3/11/2013, 2:14 pm

Think doing half-runner beans with the sweet corn would work?


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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/11/2013, 2:31 pm

daisy, depends on how tall and strong the stems of the corn is. Not all corn seed packages help you with corn sizes. But, then, isn't that part of the fun of gardening, researching the veggies you want? Nonna

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  daisy0606 on 3/11/2013, 2:49 pm

I have definitely been doing a lot of internet research:p

So based on the comments I have gotten so far... do you guys think this layout is better?



I am a complete newbie at this so all advice and suggests is always very welcome. I am still trying to make sense out of all this stuff I have been reading.

You know this all started with my three year old wanting to "make something grow". So I was gonna have him plant some radishes then realized it's a bit late here for them here and DH suggested I grow something that he'll actually want to eat:p I saw this three sisters thing and it looks cool cause he will enjoy eating this stuff and it seems the right time of year for it too. Hopefully I get something good to grow!


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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/11/2013, 3:12 pm

Just a note on runner beans in some zones they can be Perennials. Might consider growing in an 2x2 sfg or 1x1 sfg as hummingbirds like the flowers.

Native Seeds/SEARCH sells a lot of corn including corn's wild relative Teosinte. And have a lot of beans common, fava, lima, runner and tepary.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  daisy0606 on 3/11/2013, 3:24 pm

Liketogarden, I noticed you are in zone 8... same as me. So if you have any tips on these kinda crops related to our climate please share:)

I live in central MS (zone 8b)

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  LikeToGarden on 3/11/2013, 4:10 pm

daisy0606
I did this before starting sfg - and I'm no expert

My experience with runner beans started when I started looking for plants to grow on the outside in front of the windows to provide a wall of plants that would produce something to eat and lower the electric bill. The wall stopped most of the sun from coming into the house and lowering the electric bill. At the time I used beans (some being runner beans) and corn. As it took time to make the tressiles for the beans I didn't plant the corn. The beans I planted where Christmas (sometimes called calico) pole beans, Florida pole beans (both limas) the Florida pole looks like Christmas pole beans but about half the size and can grow up to 15ft (the intent was to let them grow to the top of the tressiles and grow down providing a drape like of leaves. Both of these beans should grow good in your zone. The runner beans planted on wrong side east facing I think and they grow well but did not fill out in leaves but the blooms did attract humming birds. I think to provide the shade wall to the windows the corn might have been better to added to the beans..
Anyways, at end of season I dug up the bean plants but left one near the trellis post i think - not meaning to leave it just missed it - the next year it stated to grow. I then did some research on runner beans and found out this does happen with runner beans (some types does better than others) and if I wanted the plant to keep coming back to also mulch around it (here I would use pine straw) for winter.

I don't know if you like cowpeas/crowders but several of them should work with the three sisters - The Mississippi Purple Hull another one is Red Snapper

I am not sure but I think the traditional Three Sisters method used tepary beans.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Dunkinjean on 3/11/2013, 11:09 pm

I am also trying "The Three Sisters" garden in a 4x8 SFG plot.
I am going to plant Golden Bantam 12-Row Corn, with Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans next to the corn and Pumpkins on 2 of the ends of the box and butternut squash up a trellis alongside the corn.
This is my 1st yr of trying "The Three Sisters". I also have zucchini I can also plant in place of the pumpkins.
I would love to see pictures of everyone's "Three Sisters" throughout the seasons.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  quiltbea on 3/11/2013, 11:27 pm

Dunkinjean......That zucchini may not be the thing you want to plant in your 3 sisters. They are huge plants, wide, not long and vining.

I give my zucchini 9 sq ft of space. This is on July 3rd which is barely into the growing season and its Big.
Pumpkins have long vines so you can guide them outside the box just fine, which would make them better suited to 3 sisters.

Pumpkin patch in my community garden rows. See the difference.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Dunkinjean on 3/11/2013, 11:33 pm

Quiltbea,
OOPS!
Thank you for the reminder not to plant zucchini in the Three Sisters! Must have got a bit of dirt in the brain yesterday....lol. Very Happy
I will instead plant the pumpkins.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Turan on 3/11/2013, 11:35 pm

O definitely pictures! Laughing

Quiltbea I don't know anything about topping pole beans. I just grew them for the first time in a couple decades as an experiment here last summer.

When I ran my Google finger I only found one person posting about having multiple year success with 3 Sisters using sweet corn. She grows Silver Queen, bush beans and zuccini squash.

Daisy, Half Runner beans sounds like a great choice. Let us know if it works. Are you planting 4 pumpkins, one per corner? Are the other squares noted as pumpkin in a nod to its size? If not that is a LOT of pumpkin.

My plan is to grow Painted Mountain corn, it is a flour corn developed up hill from me. Then bush beans on the sides of the bed with one side being fava beans. Unless I put the favas in a the middle of the bed between the corn plants. I am thinking about finding some Indian Woman Yellow beans for one side. That is a bush dry bean traditionally grown around here (as is the ancestry of the corn I am growing). I have not totally decided about the squash, if I will squeeze a plant in or not. Traditionally up here it is 4 Sisters, sunflowers, corn, beans and squash. I always have sunflowers growing around so that is covered.





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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  quiltbea on 3/12/2013, 12:07 am

Turan....I don't know about 'topping' pole beans either, but I assume (you know what they say about that word) that cutting off the tops when they reach the top of the corn would work like it does for tomatoes and other vining crops. The plant will then put its energy into ripening the crops already on the vine instead of growing taller. I think its worth a try so I'll find out.
My squash will be a very small winter squash, Acorn.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  littlejo on 3/12/2013, 1:13 am

I planted silver queen and it gets very tall and has very sturdy stalks and very 'bad' roots' It will hold up any bean that you choose. At the end of the season, I had to just wait til frost, when the beans(kentucky wonder) were finished, and dug the corn out of my SFG.
May I suggest putting the corn in the center,4 per sq, and around the outside, maybe 2 per sq, then beans in 1/2 the sq around the outside edge, putting the pumpkin or squash in the four corner squares. Squash can vine off the edge of box into the isle. You want the beans on the outside where you can get to them to pick. Only thing with the corn in sfg, it requires so much nitrogen up front, before the beans will help. I put some organic fertilizer for the corn at the first of the season.
I'm planning on silver queen, pole lima beans and yellow crookneck squash, maybe the squash will climb the corn too? Don't know if the corn will support the squash or not. But, I can put a tomato cage for it in the corners.
Jo

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/12/2013, 11:18 am

Turan, you may want to check Native Seed Search for your Yellow Woman beans. This site has the most extensive list of heirloom beans I've ever seen: Common, Fava, Tupary, Runner--amazing choices! In checking their site this morning, I didn't find Yellow Woman, but it may be there under another name. Good luck, Nonna

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Turan on 3/12/2013, 12:06 pm

Thank, Nonna, that is an amazing collection of beans! They don't have Indian Woman Yellow though. I gather there was a crop failure for a supplier of it, so some catalogs do not have any this year. I have to go visit Judy Fisher today to get that squash seeds and I will ask her. It was her uncle who introduced it to non Native gardeners again. She might be growing her own seed of it, if so it will still be closely adapted to our area. I worry about getting it from some one who grew it for seed in the MidWest or some other different climate.

Judy has not set up her seed racks around town yet. One nursery told me they had been begging for a month now. I know Judy's assistant was in a bad car accident last fall. I suspect that has put her way behind. I am a little worried, Judy is fairly old now and what happens with her seed stock if she quits?

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/12/2013, 5:11 pm

We havent tried a three sisters in our SFG but are thinking about it Very Happy

whats holding us back is we are also going to plant sweet corn in our back garden and not sure if the corn we want to plant called Hooker's Sweet Indian Corn *the kernels dry blue-black and grind into the sweetest cornmeal.* will effect the taste of our other corn we are going to plant....any thoughts?? (up date, called territorial seed company and they said they wont effect the taste of the corn....only will effect seed saving of the hooker corn....yaa...i think we will try it then!)

we did plant two wine barrel three sisters last year and a three sisters in ground the year before that..... Very Happy

one thing i would recommand if you are going to plant beans to grow up the corn...... plant a drying bean.....other wise it will be hard to harvest a reg type of bean .......

we gave our corn fish em at planting, when it got up to our hip and when we saw tassels ......corn also like deep watering.....

we also start extra corn seeds as we tend to have a problem either with a critter or a germination problem, because not all of the corn seed sprouts....

happy gardening
rose

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  littlejo on 3/12/2013, 6:11 pm

Rose and all,
Check the harvest amt of time and plant the sweet corn where it will harvest ahead of the other drying corn. ex: if they both come off in 90 days, just plant the sweet a couple weeks ahead of the other corn, then they will both taste good and you can save seed from each for next yr, if they are open pollinated.
Count out the corn for the sfg, and put in a bowl of water over night, dump water in am. Mine sprouted in 24 hrs. With a sfg bed, you can get a jump start with the corn by planting, then put some clear plastic over bed til the corn comes up, especially if it is really to cool to plant. Last yr my corn was pushing the plastic up before I got the plastic off.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/12/2013, 10:11 pm

Turan, perhaps you could encourage Judy Fisher to share her heirloom seeds with both Native Seed Search, Seed Savers Exchange, and/or Baker Creek to assure a second repository of these seeds and their valuable genetic diversity. In Oregon, we have a small seed company: Victory Seed Company in Molalla, OR, which is seeking out and saving old timey seeds. One of their Pole Beans we're trying this year is Pole Bean 'Riggin's Stick", described as "A family heirloom from Kentucky handed down since before the Civil War. They simply called them "Stick Beans" as tobacco sticks were used as support for the heavy vines to climb." Now, "before the Civil War" indicates to me these beans probably were the same as one of the more desirable Native American beans grown in Kentucky. Anyhoo, I'm just in to growing these for the chance to taste what my ancestors ate. Nonna

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/13/2013, 12:29 am

Thanks for the advice littlejo Very Happy

Nonna im feeling the same about the Hooker corn I want to try....the history of it...

Hooker's Sweet Indian Corn was first obtained by Ira Hooker nearly 70 years ago .....

happy gardening
rose

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 3/13/2013, 10:28 am

Rose, where did you find the Hooker's Corn seed?

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

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