top_dollar_bread
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three sister question

i want to give this a try, i have grown pea's before but not beans and i havent grown the other companions as well. so this is all new to me and could use some/any advice...
im not a big squash fan so i wanted to know if i can grow cucumbers in the place of squash?? i know squash & cucumbers are cousins, well in the same Cucurbitaceae family but i thought id ask if this would work. has any one done this? or am i setting my self up for failure??

for those who don't know what [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(agriculture)]three sisters[/url] is, its an old companion planting method used by some native Americans. they grouped maize(corn) climbing beans and squash together.
i want to give this a shot on a small, new patch of land i been prepping all winter.
it was a part of my back lawn but i took that out, laid some compost, worm casting, coffee grounds, collected rock sand/dust and a few hand fulls of meals. i then covered with news paper, fall leaves and let nature do its thing all winter. i then cut all the weeds(@ ground level) that took hold, made a green mulch and covered with more compost
the soil is visually more alive (they seem to like reading under the news paper) and a lot darcer then before i added the goodies.
know some corn, beans and cucumbers would be nice to grow as well..theyll go great with my lettuce, carrots and the many edible weeds for my salads :D
thanks in advance!!

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jal_ut
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I know this is not what you want to hear, but I firmly believe that all three crops will do better if you give them their own space and don't crowd them together in the same area. Plant three rows of corn in the middle and a row of squash/cukes on one side and a row of beans on the other side.

Corn should be planted in rows 30-36 inches apart and one plant each foot in the row. I suggest 3 rows so it will get pollinated good.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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A couple of years ago, I bought a multi-seed packet kit for Three Sisters from Renee's Garden and it had pretty thorough instructions. Plant group of corn on hills, after corn shoots are X" tall, plant beans around the hills, then finally the pumpkin seeds between the hills. The hills were pretty far apart (by my backyard garden standards) -- maybe 36" x 48" with the pumpkins planted between the 48" spacing. My memory is a little vague -- Renee's has a lot of instructions on-line. You might be able to find it there.

From what I've read about it, I believe the corn should be late maturing tall variety, and the beans should not be overwhelmingly vigorous. From my last year's garden, I would say Marvel of Venice pole bean is a good candidate, whereas Purple Podded pole bean would not. The packet kit from Renee's contained Scarlet Runner bean. Scarlet Runners, for me, is rather slow growing until August, so maybe it allows the corn the head start it needs. The corn that came with the packet kit was Earth Tones Dent.

BTW -- in my garden, I had four corn hills with two pumpkin vines the middle. The Pie Pumpkins decided that they didn't like their assigned space and promptly escaped out of the raised bed. :roll: They ended up growing up along the low garden fence, then split up one grew up and along the top rail of the 5' picket fence and the other headed out onto the lawn. Each vine produced 2 lovely pumpkins -- the ones on the fence needed slings, but it was easy to tie them onto the pickets of the fence.

I've grown cukes with corn before and I think it could work as long as you intend for the cuke to stay mostly on the ground. I've always grown cukes on trellises, and I found the corn to be inadequate support for the cukes -- hard for them to find ways to grab hold, rumpled up the corn leaves with tendrils when they did hold, and pulled down the corn when the cukes started to fruit.

Decado
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Do you still want to do the planting right into the ground method of three sisters if you live somewhere northerly, like zone 4?

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applestar
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Decado, has anyone recommended to you John Jeavon's [url=https://www.amazon.com/Vegetables-Berries-Thought-Possible-Imagine/dp/1580087965/ref=reader_auth_dp]How to Grow More Vegetables[/url]? This author believes in starting most vegetables in pots (well actually 3" and 6" deep flats) before transplanting out and provides detailed charts on how far apart to space the seeds in what depth soil, grown for how long before transplanting or up-potting, and how far to space the transplants IF GROWN IN BIOINTENSIVELY PREPARED BED.

According to him, yes, you can start corn, beans, AND pumpkins first and transplant them out. You don't want to stress the plants by leaving them in containers too long.

I've tried this -- corn is relatively easy to transplant, though it has very long root but bean root is long and brittle and pumpkin it's ALWAYS said doesn't like the roots disturbed. Some seed catalog instructions say to plant in peat pots, though I dislike them for variety of reasons -- I would consider using paper pots or soil blocks.

Using hoop/poly/low tunnels to warm up the ground, you can sow seeds EARLIER, directly in the ground. Depending on your budget and size of your garden, you can either [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=108710#108710]make them yourself[/url] or [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=42086#42086]buy pre-constructed ones[/url].

top_dollar_bread
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thanks much guys and ladies, appreciate all the tips

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jal_ut
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This author believes in starting most vegetables in pots (well actually 3" and 6" deep flats) before transplanting out and (blah, blah)
Interesting. This is in direct contrast to what I have learned in my modest 50+ years of gardening experience. I have found that most things do best grown from seed planted directly in the garden where it will be grown, and given its own space so as not to be in close competition with other plants for sunshine, soil nutrients, water, and root space. The only plants I currently transplant are peppers and tomatoes.

You can write anything........... that doesn't make it true, but it serves the author well if people will buy it.

My philosophy is to try it and then decide for yourself what works for you.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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Isn't that the truth! And all the early seed starting can run into some money, too. :roll:

But it's soooo hard to wait for spring! :wink:
So, what do *you* do this time of the year, jal_ut? :D

cynthia_h
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jal_ut, Jeavons' approach is also based on experience--30 years for him, but he has a different goal in mind. Each of you uses the methods best suited for the goal in mind.

Jeavons works to get the most production out of very limited ground and to record the statistics on that production. 100-square-foot plots, usually 5' x 20'. He feels driven to encourage even those people who have very little ground, esp. people in other countries (Latin America, Africa), to grow more of their own food so they won't be as subject to food price fluctuations. Therefore, starting seeds in flats so that the plants are ready for the ground *the moment* the previous crop is harvested is integral to his system. There's a lot more to it, obviously, but this is the philosophical underpinning.

I think it's clear to all of us here at THG that your method is a stunning success in your location and with your conditions of temperature (esp. the highly unpredictable frozen 4th of July :shock:) and precipitation. The pictures you post of the bountiful harvests of squash, beets, greens, potatoes, and all manner of abundance are the proof, as are the happy helpers! :D

Cynthia H.
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top_dollar_bread
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in my very minimal experience i have noticed that some plants/crops do well when started in small pots then transplanted, while some don't. i have also observed the same with starting seeds directly in the garden soil,some do well while others have problems.
so i do both depending on weather conditions, if i have extra soil, containers and room for starters or in the garden.
i am also giving gardening/planting ect by the moon a try as well,the decide what works for yourself is a great practice and advice for gaining that experience. thanks
I know this is not what you want to hear, but I firmly believe that all three crops will do better if you give them their own space and don't crowd them together in the same area
do you think that maybe certain varieties may do better when planted as companions?? im trying heirloom both corn and beans...can you tell me witch type or types of corn and bean didnt work well together? that will help me much....
i don't have to much room to work with, that is the reason why i wanted to give them a try together
my plan is to plant a roll of corn, with beans and cucumbers around
something like this:ex
---x--------_-------x--------_------
---o--------o-------o--------o----
---_--------x-------_--------x-----
( O )are corn,( x ) is beans and ( _ ) is cucumbers

im thinking the cucumber will cover much of the soil, while the beans hopefully climb the corn....
i cant remember the names of the varieties on the top of my head, i just hope everything works well.

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applestar
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Corn pollinates better planted in a block. For extremely limited space, something like 4'x4' planted 12" apart works -- I've done this two years running in blocks separated by the house: Sweet and Dent first year, Sweet and Popcorn the second year. Maybe your center row of corn can be a staggered zigzag/double-row?

I also particularly liked the argyle pattern in that French "Ruth Stout" lady's garden -- shoot! E...something, was't it? It was a video HG linked. I'm going to try that this year. Ah ha! [url=https://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=2865701754864235132]Emilia Hazelip[/url] !

Tigerlilylynn
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Also some corn (only one I know off hand is golden bantam) will grow denser. Golden bantam also grows shorter so that might factor into bean choice.

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Alan in Vermont
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Supposedly the sisterhood of growing crops together has some tangible benefits other than saving space.

The corn provides the "poles" for the beans to climb on.

The beans add N to the soil for the corn to use.

The cucurbit vines reputedly keep coons out of the corn.

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