JayPoc
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Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

I find myself in a bit of a space crunch. My wife started a bunch of corn seedlings with her students, so I'll be getting a bunch of bouncing baby corns in plastic cups this evening. I've heard that some Native American agricultural practices grew corn and beans, or corn, beans, and squash together.

Anyone ever try this? How do you set it up? I have one bed that is approximately 20 or 25 feet long and 3 or 4 feet wide to devote to this project. I've grown corn alone with success in that area in the past.

Edit: The corn is some sort of bi-color hybrid sweet corn, and the beans I have are a bush type.

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

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We did 5x5 blocks alternating with sunflowers. We had cantaloupe and watermelon butted up the the back half, and bush type squash and sugar pie pumpkins on the front side. We really didn't get much in the way of beans. We used pole beans(I think Blue Lake...). It was a crowded mess! Got ok corn. Had all the normal pests. Ok squash. It was really hard to get to them from all sides for hand picking pests, so squash bugs had a HAY DAY!

Overall, I wouldnt do it like this again....

I would likely plant some type of dry shelling beans in them versus green beans. I don't know that I would do a bush type squash, or even any squash at all. The melons did well!
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applestar
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

I've been playing with various arrangements of this for several years now. Bush beans will be no problem planted in front -sunny side- of the corn.

Only wrinkle is when you want to hill the corn. If you can wait until corn is hilled once, and you don't need to hill again, you can pull the soil up along the row, THEN sow your beans about a foot in front. Otherwise, leave sufficient room to drop shovelfulls of soil to hill the corn with without burying the beans.

Pole beans have variously pulled down the corn when variety of corn is too short/wimpy and beans is too vigorous, blocked pollination, or kept on growing after corn was harvested, forcing me to leave the stalks standing to eventually get moldy and weak and fall over. Still trying different combinations and timing for that one, but late maturing extra tall field/dent/flour corn and beans meant for dry shelling seems to work out the best.

I have been more convinced of growing peas and fava beans in the same bed where corn will go in later, leaving sufficient row space in between pea rows. No fava beans this year, but I left trenches between pea rows to plant the corn so I can hill with soil from the raised pea rows, but it's still too early in the experiment to tell if this is going to work.

Yes, and like Lindsay said, go with blocks rather than long rows of corn. If you didn't have the corn already growing in cups, you could stagger the planting times -- corn, beans, corn, beans. I'm trying to delay some of my already started corn by keeping them in the cooler outside space while the ones I want to hurry up are inside under the lights.
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jal_ut
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

Corn needs company so it will get pollinated. It is a large plant and also needs space. If crowded it will have no ears on it.
Best to plant a corn patch. 3 rows spaced 30 inches and plants ten inches apart in the rows.

If you plant bush beans they don't need anything to climb. Plant 3 rows 20 feet long and you will have beans galore.
Last edited by jal_ut on Fri May 06, 2016 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

I am not a fan of companion plantings. Plant corn where the beans were last year. Crop rotation is a better plan than companion planting. Take care of the soil and give plants room to do their thing and you will be rewarded.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

Squash is a different critter. The winter squashes and pumpkins have long vines that may go 20 feet long or more and also sometimes climb on fences or rocks or whatever else you may have around. The crookneck and zucchini vines do not get as long. I like to put 5 seeds in a spot and let the vines go out like the spokes of a wheel. This makes a nice clump of squash. Have fun!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

The three sisters garden takes a lot of space. Corn takes a lot of space. I have only done two sisters. When the corn tassels, I plant the beans that will use the corn stalks as bean poles after the corn is harvested. Squash takes up too much space between the corn and it is hard to get around when you are trying to pick corn or beans, so I planted it on the perimeter and it made a beeline for the fence where it was much happier climbing. I also planted sunflowers on the perimeter of the corn. Jal ut is right corn does need company but also spacing. If you plant too close it is hard to double crop. However, since I don't use farm machines, so I offset plant in a solid block, no row spacing.
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tomc
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Re: Planting corn and beans (and even squash?) together

Three sisters gardening was done (historically) with flour corn, pole dry beans, and storage squash. It was never a green-corn kind of crop.
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