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Three Sisters

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Three Sisters

Post  corrermucho on 3/20/2010, 10:13 am

My aunt and uncle found an article about planting corn, beans, and squash (Three sisters). I also got the following information from the SFG website. It sounds interesting. Has anybody tried this before?
Marc

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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Re: Three Sisters

Post  mckr3441 on 3/22/2010, 11:32 pm

Hi Corrermucho . I've read about the Three Sisters too. Sounds like a good planting plan. It sure has a long history. Must be something to it! Are you going to try it?

Let us know how it goes.
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Speaking of the Three Sisters Tradition...

Post  anniemcu on 2/26/2011, 1:20 am

I remember being taught that it was also part of the tradition to bury a fish head when you planted the corn, to add to the nutrients available to the plants. Anyone done that?

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Re: Three Sisters

Post  Megan on 2/26/2011, 6:36 am

I didn't do that with my Three Sisters set-up. Partly because I had no deep desire to go get fish heads, but also because I had Mel's Mix. Smile Also, there's a rat problem around here, and I didn't think the bottom (or near the bottom) of my box would be deep enough to keep critters out.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/26/2011, 8:39 am

Fish emulsion should work, just mix and fill the hole before planting.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  quiltbea on 2/26/2011, 12:37 pm

I posted earlier this year I was going to try this 3 sisters this spring and a few mentioned that the corn needs to be started first so it gets a good foothold or the beans will run rampant and outgrow the corn. The corn is meant to be the 'poles' for the pole beans and should be planted first and allowed some height before sowing the beans.

The other suggestion that sounded good was to plant the corn in 2" deep holes and as they grow, to fill in the hole around the corn plants to give them strength against the climbing beans.

I plan to try 3 sisters this year, but in our organic community garden which is rows, not SFG. If there are good reports from other SFG'rs who try it this year in their raised bed, I may try it in my SFG next year.

It'll be interesting to see if others start 3 sisters this year and learn from each other.

I'll be watching for any comments as we go and I'll try to provide any insight from my garden. I plan to use a small pie pumpkin and acorn squash as my squash plants so they don't overrun the garden.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  FarmerValerie on 2/26/2011, 2:00 pm

I am going to give it a try this year, using summer squash in 2 boxes, and winter squash/pumpkins in one or two more-possibly, not sure yet. My main concern is squash bugs (I know ya'll are tired of hearing this) so radishes will go in the boxes too, as garlic and onions don't play well with beans and peas and visa versa. I am hoping to get some ornamentals in there too-marigolds etc. I have 4-8x4 and 2-6x4 boxes that I can use for this "project". I'm curious to see what will happen....
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  Megan on 2/26/2011, 3:50 pm

Comments:

@quiltbea wrote:The corn is meant to be the 'poles' for the pole beans and should be planted first and allowed some height before sowing the beans.

Yes. The beans grow really fast once they get going. Something else I read is that the best corn for the purpose is a really tall-growing one like Hickory King.

From personal experience, I can tell you my (sweet) corn topped out over 11 feet and the beans still broke off some of the tassels during the time the corn should have been pollinating. Another reason to give the corn a head start.

@quiltbea wrote:The other suggestion that sounded good was to plant the corn in 2" deep holes and as they grow, to fill in the hole around the corn plants to give them strength against the climbing beans.

I didn't have a problem with the corn in this way.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  NHGardener on 3/5/2011, 12:10 pm

I heard about 3 sisters planting a couple years back but forgot about it until it was mentioned here. I'd like to try that this year too, but I don't know if I want to use precious box space for this experiment. (I have a feeling most of my veggies will be relegated to "outside the box" because I won't want to waste any box space - )

quiltbea - When will you plant your corn seeds indoors to get started on this?

I received my tomato seeds yesterday in the mailbox from Tomatofest and I've been boring my husband with all the details on how to go about storing seeds and starting them indoors. I haven't received my victoryseeds.com order yet, but that will contain the corn seeds, should be coming this week. Also off to Lowes this weekend to look at their cedar for the boxes. This is all just so exciting I can't stand it. I don't know why family just gives me weird looks when it's all I talk about... guess they're just unenlightened. What a Face
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  windrider1967 on 3/5/2011, 4:11 pm

Do any of you know the story behind the three sisters? No?
Then listen to my story as it was told to me. Many years ago, many generations before the white man came to turtle island, there was a village who loved to dance. They loved to drum, dance and sing. They loved to tell stories and play games. Before they knew it the summer had come to an end, the air was starting to chill, and they realized they had no food stored for winter. Day after day the hunters came back empty handed and the women came back with no more than a few bare roots from their foraging. The tribe was slowly starving.
One young hunter could no longer listen to the cries of hunger from the young and old. He went to the village elders and told them that he was going to find food for his people. He turned his back on the village and walked into the woods.
He walked for many days without seeing a single track, without seeing a single bird and with nothing to fill his stomach other than the water he carried. He was about to turn back when he heard singing and stepped into a small clearing. Sitting on a log by a fire was an old man with his hands raised in prayer. He watched in silence as the man sang, feeling the heartfelt longing in the mans song. When the man finished the youth stepped closer and asked the old man "Uncle, I have been walking for many days trying to find food for my people and I am hungry. Before I return to them would you be able to share a small meal with me so I have the strength to return to my village. I cannot bring them food, but I must return lest they think I have been lost."
The old man gestured to the log beside him and asked the young man to sit. He replied "Nephew, I have but enough to share one meal with you, which I will gladly do. I feel that you have been sent in response to my prayers to the creator. I will not be in this life much longer and I have three young daughters that I fear for after I am gone. I would ask that you take them as your wives and return to your village with them, so I know that they are cared for"
The young man could not refuse such a request and after they ate he and the girls left to return to his village. He feared what his people would think, he left to find food and instead returned with three more mouths to feed. When they reached the village the elders were stunned, but as courtesy required they gathered their meager supplies and prepared a feast and drum for the girls. As the drum beat the three girls one by one entered the circle and began to dance.
The oldest spun around and around the circle and soon corn began to fall from her skirts, ears and ears of corn in the center of the circle, in a pile as far across and as tall as a man. The middle girl began to dance and from her skirts fell squash, green and yellow, all sizes and colors. Finally the youngest girl entered the circle nad from her skirts fell piles and piles of beans. Green beans, yellow beans, dry beans all around the circle.
The three sisters approached the village elders and said "You have been wasteful. There is a time for songs and for games, but caring for your people must come first. This young man took us in, with the knowledge that there was nothing to give us, other than the security of a home. He brought us to you, with the sureness that you would accept us, no matter the difficulty in doing so. These are our gifts to you. The corn represents your village and the strength of your life. As it grows strong and tall it supports the beans, which represent your people. They will grow along the stalks of the corn and be strong. The squash represents the earth strong under your feet, and it helps shade the ground and allows the other plants to grow strong, as it also provides for you. Take what we have given you to last the winter and come spring, plant and remember us, for we will surely remember you as long as you take care of each other."
The three sisters turned into butterflies and flew out of the circle, once, twice, three times around the village and disappeared. From that day forth the people remembered their words and every year to come planted the three sisters together. They stored their harvest for winter, smoked and dried the meat their hunters brought to them, and gathered berries and roots and greens. Only after this was done did they sing and dance and play. The three sisters kept the people strong and the people honored their promise.
This is the end of my story. Aho
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  quiltbea on 3/5/2011, 4:14 pm

I don't start corn indoors ever.

I sow the corn outdoors a week AFTER our last expected frost date.

I will be doing this in our rows at the community garden where I rent 3 rows a year for things that take up lots of space and to keep tomato varieties far enough apart to keep from cross-pollinating.

I share my garden harvests with 3 growing families besides myself and they all say the food has never tasted better. If there's any excess, it goes to the local Food Pantry along with the rows we specifically grow for them in our community garden.

This year it'll be 3 sisters, Sugar Baby watermelon again (they were scrumptious last year) along with a couple of cuke towers and some tomato varieties from which I want to save seeds for next year (in my crisper) and for 4 years beyond that so I'll have my own seeds if and when I can't afford to buy them in the future. Prices keep going up and I'm on a fixed income so everywhere I can save, I do.

I love SFG.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  windrider1967 on 3/5/2011, 4:59 pm

I'm gonna have to check with the local food pantries to see if they take raw produce. I know when I have used their services I have never gotten any, but they are all USDA pantries so they may not be able to take "uninspected produce"
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  NHGardener on 3/5/2011, 5:09 pm

windrider - I love that story!

And quiltbea, aha. So corn goes straight into the garden, not started indoors. When I lived a ways north of here, I found the growing season just wasn't long enough for corn (or at least my corn), so I was thinking of giving it a head start. But you don't think so?

By the way, your quilts are beautiful! That is a natural talent. I started making some quilts when I lived in North Carolina, taught by some of the quilters down there. It was SO relaxing and I loved it, but it does take time, and I never had the natural creativity for it. I still have my first sampler quilt tho.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  quiltbea on 3/5/2011, 5:22 pm

NHGardener,
Nowadays there are early corn varieties that quickly mature in the northern states.
We aren't hampered by just a few varieites these days.

I love quilting making. It relaxes me and it keeps me warm in the cold winter months to have a quilt laid across my lap. Its a good way to be creative and productive thru the long winter days.

I give most of mine away, to family, friends, and to charities and for raffles. Every year one goes to the Ronald McDonald House to raffle along with several other quilter buddies of mine, to buy furniture, etc.

I've kept a couple bed quilts for myself but I never use them. I especially like making what I call snugglers which are to wrap up in on a cold nite in front of the TV or with a good book. They are quicker and easier to finish and a nice size to be very useful. That would be something you might want to get into this year.

But I find that gardening is my first love since I read Mel's book in spring 2009. As soon as I can get my seeds started, I'm in hog heaven. I'm afraid my quilts are pushed aside for garden endeavors, plans, reading, and thinking.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  Megan on 3/5/2011, 5:33 pm

@windrider1967 wrote:I'm gonna have to check with the local food pantries to see if they take raw produce.

Windrider, please let us know if you have any success with that. I tried to find pantries and churches around here that would take raw produce, and had no luck.
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  NHGardener on 3/5/2011, 5:42 pm

quiltbea, Quilting in the winters and SFG in the summers - I don't think life could get much better than that. Very Happy

You always have an option for income with those quilts, too, if you wanted.
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Food Pantry

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/5/2011, 11:29 pm

@windrider1967 wrote:I'm gonna have to check with the local food pantries to see if they take raw produce. I know when I have used their services I have never gotten any, but they are all USDA pantries so they may not be able to take "uninspected produce"

I found our community food pantry (not sponsored by the County or any other Government Agency) will accept raw food. Whenever they have fresh produce, a couple of the sponsors will sit in the parking lot on Friday's and those in need know to check for produce on Friday's. Otherwise, non-perishable's are available a couple of times a month.

In fact, I have already talked to a couple of members of the food pantry, and will be starting a 4 X 12 in the local comunity garden and all that produce to be donated to "Clifford's Dream" the local food pantry. I am planning (my plan is not finished yet) to grow more calorie rich/nutrient rich foods and less salad stuff. More on the order of beans, peas, broccoli, squash, cauliflower, carrots, and beets. There will be some salad fixings but that will be limited. Any suggestions? I want to help provide nutritious food for those in need.

EDIT 10 pm PST I will be growing sugar snap peas, that edible pod is so much better for you than just the shelled peas. Snap type green beans, I don't want to keep those beans tying up the garden space by waiting for dried beans, though dried beans are super nutritious. Sure do wish we could grow any melons out here on the cold, foggy, damp Coast.


Last edited by Furbalsmom on 3/6/2011, 1:08 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/5/2011, 11:34 pm

@Windrider1967 wrote: Do any of you know the story behind the three sisters?

Well done and thank you!
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/5/2011, 11:37 pm

@NHGardener wrote:I don't know why family just gives me weird looks when it's all I talk about... guess they're just unenlightened. What a Face

Funny, but I get the same thing here
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Re: Three Sisters

Post  quiltbea on 3/5/2011, 11:48 pm

furbalsmom.....
All those are good crops that we deliver to our food pantry.
What surprised us was that the radishes and carrots went quickly. Folks will buy fresh tomatoes and lettuce to make a salad, but won't pay the extra for radishes and carrots to shave into the salads. Carrots are also great in their soups.

We also grew Sugar Baby watermelons in the Food Pantry rows and they, too, went quickly. Those with kids in the family appreciated the watermelons.

Until we started our community garden last year, there was very little fresh crops at the pantry. The grocery stores gave winter squash, but that's about it. The rest were either sold or weren't too good by the time they were ready to get rid of them.

Whatever anyone can spare is always appreciated by someone.
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