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Three sisters - Beans in particular?

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Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Mads on 2/10/2011, 1:05 pm

Hi there!
I bet a lot of you guys and girls have been doing the three sisters setup!

And that's also what's going to be my debut in companion planting and SFG.

I just received my seeds two days ago and the beans say that they need to be germinated in Feb (it's says on the packet, everybody knows that beans don't talk).

So especially with my limited growing season because I'm up here in zone 4, I'd better get a move on.

So the question is how? In a germination tray and then transplant one or two times, or do they germinate so easily that I might as well start them in small pots?

I'm sure you all know and are eager to tell newbie SFG'er!

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  quiltbea on 2/10/2011, 1:24 pm

If you are growing 'three sisters' which is pole beans, corn and squash plants, I read that the corn has to support the beans so they need to get a head start before the pole beans start climbing. Corn doesn't get sown til after the frost-free date so I don't think I'd start my own pole beans indoors first. I'd sow them directly in the ground a week or so after the corn. Like myself who lives in the north of our country, I think you'd need to have a short-season variety of bean.

I understood that beans and peas don't transplant well and are usually sown directly into the garden outdoors after soil temps reach 60*F. I know I've never started them indoors, ever.

I'm going to try this for the first time myself this spring, in our local organic community garden. I plan on a short-season pole bean, Northeaster, that matures in only 55 days along with an early corn, Double Standard. My squash will be the small winter squash, Buttercup, and also some little New England Pie Pumpkins. Whether it will work as planned or not, that remains to be seen.

If anyone else that has grown 'three sisters' can provide more helpful information on this venture, please be sure to jump in and help me. I'm always eager to hear fresh ideas.

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  boffer on 2/10/2011, 1:27 pm

Is your three sisters in Europe the same as the three sisters in the U.S.? (beans, corn, squash?) If not, disregard my post!

All three crops are warm weather crops and like warm soil to germinate. Corn especially, likes soil temps about 60*F/14*C or so to germinate. Corn does not transplant well. Be sure to plant a short season variety, or you'll run out of summer.

The most important thing you can do is to plant your corn at least 4-6 weeks ahead of your beans. If not, the beans will quickly grow much taller than your corn and have nothing to cling to.

I have never heard of planting beans this early (Feb) in four season climates. Perhaps you have a cool weather bean variety?

Unless you're growing in a greenhouse, you may not have a warm and long enough summer to have a successful three sisters garden.
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Three sisters

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 2/10/2011, 2:00 pm

Like Boffer, we live in the rainy west section of the Pacific Northwest. This is our first year of square foot gardening, but we've grown a large garden nearly every year for 20 years. Having lots of garden area, the three-sisters way of growing corn has been very successful for us. I start vining varieties of winter squash in a small greenhouse, so the plants are ready to vine. We make a long hilled-up 3-foot row in the chosen garden spot, with three deep channels down the center-most area of the hill and install two drip hoses, then put corn seeds down the channels, covering them with about an inch of compost (vermiculite this year). Note, the channels still have ridges of dirt on each side of them which will be pushed in as the corn plants start to grow. All along each side of the hilled-up wide ros of seeded corn, we plant the squash. Squash plant vines are prickly, and discourage critters from crossing this edible barrier. When the channels around the new corn have been filled in (burying the bottom of the corn plants up an inch or two (they'll produce stronger and more roots), then we push in bean seeds in open areas amongst the corn. That's it. Not even raccoons will wade through the squash to get at the ears of corn. Oh, forgot one thing: leave enough space beween the squash and the hill (more like a ridge) of corn so YOU don't have to wade through the squash. Nonna&PapaVino

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  duhh on 2/10/2011, 2:37 pm

We will be doing a three sisters this year, and hopefully be planting it this weekend! I'm very excited about it. I still haven't decided on the corn or bean variety.

I'll be planting the small pie pumpkins for the squash.

I don't know a whole lot about it. I've been reading alot online and talking to some people in the gardening group here. I just thought it would be something neat and different for my nephew to see.

Keep us posted on how yours does when you plant it!
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  LaFee on 2/10/2011, 3:07 pm

You grow corn, Mads? (surprised) Is is popular there?

Here it's considered weird to grow corn for the table - corn is for animals! I have to buy my fresh corn at the Portuguese or African markets, because what's in the regular markets here is old and starchy and....fit only for animals.

My corn *plants* grew strong and healthy last year, with 6 ears of corn that were unfortunately all infected with fungus, so I didn't get to eat a single ear of it. A different variety this year will hopefully yield better results!

I direct-sowed my beans; my pumpkins I started indoors (and frankly too early, as I had pumpkins in September)...don't know that that helps you any, though.

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  quiltbea on 2/10/2011, 3:12 pm

Thanks Nonna.
I'll wait to plant my beans until after the corn starts to grow.
I also read about channel sowing the corn so you can pull some soil up around them as they grow to make them stronger. Another good idea.
I love this forum. Such good advice from those that experienced it.
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Mads on 2/10/2011, 3:29 pm

Darn, I was posting a long reply but apparently it got lost somewhere on the interweb... I see that there's more posts since I tried to reply, so there's a bit more of reading for me to do.
Once again: This is an amazing forum with loads of activity.

Cool!
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Megan on 2/10/2011, 5:07 pm

Definitely let your corn get a head-start on the beans. Also, I'd suggest a tall corn. Pole beans like to climb.
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Mads on 2/12/2011, 12:35 pm

Oh darn, I don't even know if my beans are pole beans Very Happy

http://www.nickys-nursery.co.uk/garden-shop/seeds/vegetable-beans/broad-bean-bunyards-exhibition-100g/all

I guess I'll just have to go with them though ;-) At least I still have a while to think things through (as if that has ever saved me from doing anything stupid!).

I'll defenately give the corns a head start. I grew corn last year but started in May and by the end of the season I only had some puny underdeveloped cobs on my plants. So early is the key here.

With this climate here I really don't have any choice with regards to transplanting. I guess I just have to sprout plenty of seeds.

Like duhh, I'll be trying some sort of different squash (they are pretty):
http://www.nickys-nursery.co.uk/garden-shop/squash-summer-sunbeam-10-seeds

And now that I'm telling about the species I mights as well post the corn as well:

Britpop

I hope I'm doing the links right... Or at least I hope I manage to learn...

And thanks again for the many replies. Great forum!
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Icemaiden on 2/12/2011, 12:56 pm

Oh my! I've never heard of this three sister thing at all!

The bean you showed is a broad bean, so not a pole bean. I've not tried this sort myself but I have tried several others. These beans are usually eaten by podding the beans and boiling them - posh chefs tend to take the skin off each bean as well, and I do this sometimes as growing them here they grow rather slowly and can be tough but I love them anyhow. Some people eat the beans are at early stage, when they about the size of a finger, then you can eat the whole pod just like a french bean.

I sow my broadbeans in peat pots indoors usually, beginning of May seems to work best for me as they come up quickly and need planting out after two weeks. I think I once sowed them directly in garden and that was fine too but perhaps a week slower to get going. If you have windy weather you may need to stake them when they get tall. In the UK broadbeans are prone to getting blackfly but that is not a problem here.

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Icemaiden on 2/12/2011, 1:10 pm

I just looked at how your summer compares to mine and as I thought you are probably way warmer. At least Helsinki is. Helsinki has a similar average max and min to where my sister lives in the middle of England so it just shows you that these hardiness zones are not very helpful for people who just garden in the summer!

(You can compare climates at http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/vacationplanner/compare though not everywhere is in there, you may have to pick somewhere close by.)

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/12/2011, 1:13 pm

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 2/12/2011, 3:00 pm

Mads, your summer "patty pan" squash looks very like one we grew a couple of years ago. Delicious little things when picked at about 2 inches across, steamed a bit, then served with a bit of browned butter and a sprinkle of herbs. When they outgrew their baby stage, I cut off the tops, scooped out the seeds, minced the squash from around the cut-off top, and stuffed the scooped-out bottoms with a garlicky minced top-mushroom-bread crumb mix, topped with a bit of mozzarella cheese. Put 'em in a pan with a bit of moisture in the bottom and baked them. Tasty vegetarian dish. Good choice you made, me thinks. Nonna

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  camprn on 2/12/2011, 3:05 pm

@Nonna.PapaVino wrote: "patty pan" squash Delicious little things when picked at about 2 inches across, steamed a bit, then served with a bit of browned butter and a sprinkle of herbs. When they outgrew their baby stage, I cut off the tops, scooped out the seeds, minced the squash from around the cut-off top, and stuffed the scooped-out bottoms with a garlicky minced top-mushroom-bread crumb mix, topped with a bit of mozzarella cheese. Put 'em in a pan with a bit of moisture in the bottom and baked them. Tasty vegetarian dish. Good choice you made, me thinks. Nonna
O M G ! hungry Sounds delish! can we put this in the recipe section? :!:
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Three sisters

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 2/12/2011, 3:13 pm

Sure, guess I should have posted it there in the first place. Just didn't think. Hard to write an actual recipe from memory of something I did a couple of years ago, off the cuff, so to speak--do know it was not so unusual that I wrote it down. Nonna

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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Megan on 2/12/2011, 3:39 pm

That does sound tasty! I am eying some pattypan squash for this year, too.
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Re: Three sisters - Beans in particular?

Post  Mads on 2/12/2011, 4:54 pm

Thanks again for great informative replies!

It appears that the beans are easy enough to get going, so that should be all good. They should do fine along with the corn and those "patty pans" sound like something to really look forward to!

Yeah this place has some funny mood swings when it comes to climate. Winters get freezing cold and summer can get blistering hot. Not much wind here though ;-)
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