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Three Sisters Square Foot garden

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Three Sisters Garden

Post  giant_trainer on 3/13/2015, 12:26 am

Have any of you tried to do a Three Sisters in a 4x4 box?  If so what was the layout?  I've been reading the forums but the more I read the more confused I get Embarassed
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/13/2015, 2:13 am

there are already a few threads on doing a three sisters......if you go to the bottom of the page and type in the search area right under google....on the left hand side of the page....type in three sisters it will give you links to some of the other threads Very Happy

here is one link to get you started Smile
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t14795-three-sisters-square-foot-garden

happy gardening
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  giant_trainer on 3/13/2015, 10:56 am

Like I said.. I have read the forums.  I was just hoping someone here has done one and could help with design in a 4x4 box.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/13/2015, 11:29 am

Hi Kathy.  I can tell you that you should plan on only 2 stalks of corn/sq (unless you got REALLY good compost/nutrients in there!) 

And you don't want to overload your corn stalks weight-wise w/ the beans & squash.

But, no, I haven't tried it yet.  DH isn't keen on the idea...?
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/14/2015, 4:50 am

@giant_trainer wrote:Like I said.. I have read the forums.  I was just hoping someone here has done one and could help with design in a 4x4 box.

oops Embarassed I forgot to mention in my previous post that yes we have planted a Three sisters garden a few times in a 4x4 box.....I've share what we have done and a picture or 2 of our SFG 4x4 box in the link I provided above.....there are other three sister threads as well, where I have shared different years of gardening....and I know others have shared what they have done and provided some pictures as well.....

Is there a specific question you have? I would be happy to help Very Happy we have always enjoyed growing our three sisters garden....last year we grew Painted Mountain corn, butternut squash and Scarlett runner beans......the Painted Mountain was fantastic ground and made into corn meal for muffins .....

happy gardening
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  giant_trainer on 3/14/2015, 3:17 pm

Thanks Rose... the link and pictures were very helpful!  Can't wait for Spring!
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Three Sisters

Post  Arejaye on 3/26/2015, 8:42 am

I'd heard of the Three Sisters for a long time, but never had tried until last year. Due to things out of my control, I got a late start, but here's how I did it, and I doubt you'd get much out of a 4x4 honestly, unless you're single or have a small family. I was told to mound up soil about 18inches across, and about 6 inches high. Plant 4 corn seeds about 6 inches apart in a square, more to the center of the mound. After the corn has grown to about a foot to foot and a half, plant the pole beans of choice in between the corn stalks and allow only the strongest 2 to survive(I planted 3 seeds per hole to insure, or hope, that I would get 2 good plants. The pole beans, as they grow will help give the corn stalks some strength if you have a strong storm, which is typical in the summer months. Lastly, find a good type squash that will spread out and plant those near the edge of the mound, also in a group of 4, just as the corn and beans were...4 holes per veggie in a basic square. I chose 2 different types, butternut and Lakota. Not knowing exactly what I was doing, it turned out pretty well, and I learned also to drive a stake at the end of(in my case)rows at a 45 degree angle, and use paracord or something similar to the stake and run a line down each side to the other stake and secure it, do NOT cut it. You'll need it again since as the corn starts to put out ears and the beans start to grow off the vines, there's a LOT more weight than I expected, but having the paracord run on both sides and added as it grew skyward, kept even the strongest storms we had around here from causing any damage. Everything stayed standing tall, and I was very surprised with the yield in such a small space. I plan to do it again this year, and maybe expand the amount a bit. It might seem confusing or more work, but it's very much the opposite. I'm also proud that last year was my first garden all planted by seed, not any already started plants, including 72 tomato plants!! in honor of my Father who always did his that way from seed and passed away in '13, and it was all natural, all heirloom seeds, non GMO(take THAT Monsanto!) and no chemical fertilizers. No fertilizers at ALL except what nature and compost already had in the soil, and I used rainwater collected to avoid any chlorine and other things in the tap water here. Good luck and keep your green thumb always green but a lil bit dirty. Wink
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Turan on 3/26/2015, 11:31 am

Hi Arejay, your garden sounds lovely.  72 home grown tomatoes, you must of done a lot of canning?

I am looking at your Three sisters mounds and converting to a 4x4 SFG bed in my mind.  With the raised bed there would be no reason for mounds per se but the equivalent of their area, 4  per 4x4 bed.  It works out to 1 corn/sqf and 1 bean/ 2sqf and 1 squash/4sqf.   Looking back through this thread that is a lot less dense planting than most have done. 

My own experiences are with 4x8 beds and I planted the squash on a berm along side.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  vortex on 3/26/2015, 3:22 pm

I'm going to give this a try this year.

I have a corner raised bed, that is effectively 5 4'x4' blocks. (total space is 4' wide, 12' outside lengths, 8' inside lengths)

Here it is:



Pic was taken early last year, before much was planted and the new irrigation put in. But you get the idea.


Anyway, I like to think of it in terms of 5 4x4 blocks for SFG planting purposes. 2 of which (each end) are taken up with strawberries.


Did corn in one block last year and had an excellent, delicious crop (Early and Often hybrid). I went a little on the conservative side and planted 1/sq, but will be moving them closer together this year (2/sq)

This should leave some nice room for a couple three or four bush beans, with some squash on the front corners. Marigolds in pots on the surrounding mulch. Smile

May try to snake some watermelon into the mix from the section next to this.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/26/2015, 5:30 pm

VERY nice looking, Vortex!

It continuously amazes me about how creative gardeners can be in their designs...
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  sanderson on 3/26/2015, 10:23 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:VERY nice looking, Vortex!

It continuously amazes me about how creative gardeners can be in their designs...
good idea
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  vortex on 3/27/2015, 1:47 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:VERY nice looking, Vortex!

It continuously amazes me about how creative gardeners can be in their designs...

Thank you. I wish I would have made it 8ft longer on each end. Smile




@sanderson wrote:good idea
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Thanks.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  mschaef on 3/27/2015, 4:53 pm

Well you could always expand it the additional 8 Ft on each end that you want... looks gorgeous by the way.
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Corn in an SFG

Post  crankyoldman on 3/27/2015, 7:23 pm

When I plant corn in my SFG I use the "Three Sisters" planting method favored by many of the people indigenous to North America. I plant 4 corn seeds near the center of a square then just outside of those I plant eight climbing beans or pole beans if you prefer. I plant two squares wide by three or more squares in length. I then plant acorn squash every third square so that they can grow around the base of the corn stalks while the beans are climbing the corn stalks.

The squash act as living mulch for the other plants, the corn provides a trellis for the beans while the beans provide nitrogen for the corn. The beans are supposed to provide a second benefit in that they are supposed to keep moths away from the corn ears.

I have had mixed success with this planting method in the past, I attribute much of the problems I have had with the weather here in the metro Phoenix area where it is a balmy 90+ degrees today.

If you have had great corn growing success in the desert southwest I would like to know your secrets.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/18/2015, 10:41 am

I'm trying a 3 Sisters this year for the first time in a 3 by 5 in ground old school SFG. I have Peaches & Cream corn,  Tigers eyes and a mix of other dried beans, as well as few different squashes to try. After reading this thread all the way through I decided I would put 1 corn per square, maybe 2 each of Butternut & Tromocini vining squash between them in the center, and maybe 2 beans per square. Does that sound doable?  One can only hope.  All thoughts appreciated.

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  southern gardener on 4/18/2015, 8:40 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I'm trying a 3 Sisters this year for the first time in a 3 by 5 in ground old school SFG. I have Peaches & Cream corn,  Tigers eyes and a mix of other dried beans, as well as few different squashes to try. After reading this thread all the way through I decided I would put 1 corn per square, maybe 2 each of Butternut & Tromocini vining squash between them in the center, and maybe 2 beans per square. Does that sound doable?  One can only hope.  All thoughts appreciated.

CC
The Tromboncino squash get BIG!!! as in HUGE!! they might take over too much? We had some 4' long and about 13 lbs! haha.  Post pics!!  This is ours from last summer...trellis is about 7' tallish??  sorry...sideways AGAIN...
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another pic of the Tromboncino

Post  southern gardener on 4/18/2015, 8:44 pm


These are just a few more of the squash. We literally picked hundreds of pounds of them Smile Sorry about the sideways...somedays this systems works, but most times not Sad
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/19/2015, 8:12 am

Holy moly, SG!  That's amazing! Nothing is that prolific in my garden. One can only hope. Guess I'll just do the butternut through out the Three Sisters and maybe some zucchinis on the edges.

How many plants is that?  Did you store and use them throughout the winter?
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/23/2017, 1:28 pm

OK, so the critter ate all this years planted Three Sisters seeds a while back and I didn't bother to replant.  Lo and behold, today I saw that 1 corn, 1 squash and 1 pole bean have sprouted.  They are all next to each other.  

Question: Can corn pollinate itself...if I help it? Or do I need another corn?

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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  yolos on 6/23/2017, 1:59 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:OK, so the critter ate all this years planted Three Sisters seeds a while back and I didn't bother to replant.  Lo and behold, today I saw that 1 corn, 1 squash and 1 pole bean have sprouted.  They are all next to each other.  

Question: Can corn pollinate itself...if I help it? Or do I need another corn?
No you do not need another corn plant if all goes normally.  The tassels on the top of the corn hold the pollen.  When it is ready, the pollen will fall or get blown by the wind.  Hopefully it will land on the silks of the ears.  Every silk is connected to a kernel of corn.  If the pollen does not land on each silk, you will have kernels that do not develop.

The only problem with only one corn stalk is that if the wind blows when the pollen is being released, the pollen will blow away from the silk and the silk will not be pollinated.  Therefore, you will most likely have to hand pollinate that ear of corn.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  RC3291 on 6/23/2017, 5:49 pm

I planted a zuke and cucumbers three days ago and they are coming up. I'd replace those missing squash and bean plants and give it a go. Might even try another mound with the whole set of sisters. Maybe soak the seeds a few hours or overnight and they should pop up pretty quick.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/23/2017, 7:24 pm

I would plant 3 more corns. In a squareish shape so they pollinate each other.
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Re: Three Sisters Square Foot garden

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