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NewRiverGeorge
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Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

Hello Everyone,

For those of you that have done the "Three Sisters" garden, what spacing do you use?

I am using golden bantam corn, white half runner beans and yellowcrook neck squash this year.

I am especially curious about the spacing of the beans in respect to the corn...

Thank you in advance,

NRG

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question

The most important spacing is temporal not geographical. Plant the corn and then wait until it is several inches tall. Then plant the beans right next to the corn stalks, so the beans can climb the corn. You can plant three or four beans around each corn stalk. Then once the beans have sprouted and climbed several inches, plant the squash, maybe two squash plants in a 4x4' bed. The timing works well in early spring because the corn can tolerate colder soil and air temps, then the beans are next, and the squash needs the soil very well warmed up. And it helps keep things from competing with each other too much.

I did a 4x4 bed like this last year, my first time planting 3 sisters. I put 16 corn plants, 2 beans per corn stalk, and two squash plants. The corn did well (one ear per stalk on every stalk), the squash did well (I let it go over the edge of the bed and trail out in the lawn), but the beans did not do very well. The corn shades them pretty much. I don't know if I did something wrong....
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imafan26
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

I did three sisters once. I agree with Jal-Ut, the squash gets all over the place and it might work in a larger garden but it grew all over the place in mine. I planted the corn first but I plant very close, 8 inches apart. The beans cannot grow in such close confines. There is not enough light between the plants and the squash over runs the beans.

If you planted farther apart, at least 12 inches it might work out better. I would let the squash run out of the patch not between the corn, as it just chokes the corn and the beans. My garden is small and it probably works out better if you have a larger patch and plant a double row of corn 1 foot apart and 36 inches between the double rows. That way more light would get through.

For me the beans worked out better when I planted them after the corn started to tassel. Since I space the plants so close, I pulled out some of the corn stalks after I harvested the cobs so there would be more light and I cut off most of the leaves. I just left the corn stalks as bean poles. That way, I could harvest the corn before the beans started to climb up the corn and I would not have bean vines strangling the cobs. If the squash vines were going through the corn, the leaves would be too big and not enough light would get through for the beans to sprout unless, I started them in pots first and transplanted them out.

Planting sunflowers on the perimeter of the corn worked out great.
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digitS'
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

A flour corn (Painted Mountain), winter squash and pole beans intended for dry worked best for me. And, I put some poles in that part of the garden to assist the corn in holding up the beans. A "rattlesnake" bean was used. They are usually eaten fresh but make delicious soup after drying.

I tried the Sisters Garden several times. The biggest problem I had was getting in there to harvest something fresh with the squash taking up so much of the ground space. Finally, I decided that I should just stay out of my Sisters Garden until the end of the season. One thing, the squash does so well with weed-suppression that there was little reason for me to be there for that purpose.

Yes, I sowed the Painted Mountain corn first and gave it a couple of weeks before the bean seed went in.

I don't have a mill but soaking dry corn and using a food processor works fairly well. I grew this flour corn 3 seasons but became a little lazy about making use of it. Having Cascade Giant rattlesnake beans is almost a must for green beans and dry, whether they are grown with the flour corn, or not. Winter squash, I have every year - Buttercup, for sure. They all grew quite well, together.

Steve
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

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jal_ut
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

Ya, I about got tossed for saying: The way to plant three sisters is to plant three rows of corn spaced 30 inches, move over and plant three rows of beans spaced 20 inches, move over 6 feet and plant a row of squash. My Dad used to plant 5 seeds of squash in a spot, then take two steps and repeat. The squash would come up and the vines would go out like the spokes of a wheel making a nice squash patch. The main thing is, Do Plant!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

greenstubbs
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

jal_ut wrote: My Dad used to plant 5 seeds of squash in a spot, then take two steps and repeat. The squash would come up and the vines would go out like the spokes of a wheel making a nice squash patch. The main thing is, Do Plant!
I do this all the time and not with just squash. I do the same with Cucks, Peppers, melons, beans, etc. I just make a big Mother plant and get great harvests from everything.

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jal_ut
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Re: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

I have always said, "Give each plant its own space, and enough space, and it will do great!"
I am going to stick with that.

Corn is a big plant and needs space, but it also benefits from company so it will get pollinated. Corn too thick gets tall but may not even make ears. Corn too thin will make ears, but they may not get pollinated completely.

These days I use a little wheeled planter to plant corn, but I plugged every other hole in the planting wheel so it only drops a seed or two about every 16 inches. This has been excellent and no need for thinning. I always plant at least 3 rows with rows 30 inches apart.

I use the same planter for the beans too.

For cukes and melons I just push a seed in the ground about every 8 to 10 inches in the row. I find this works better than a clump of 5 since each seed has its own space.
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: Three Sisters Garden Question About Spacing

Image

OK, just had to toss in a picture. Squash plants get quite large.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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