Do any of you plant the corn, squash and beans together? Seems like a possible way to go, but I want maximum production. I'm not trying to save space; but I've read that raccoons, etc., are reluctant to walk across the squash/pumpkin vines to get to the corn. Have you actually done this? How were the yields? I suppose I could plant the corn and surround it with squash. Thanks.
my grandfather used to put the pumpkin seed into the hopper with the fertilizer - the corn seed came out by itself - the fertilizer came out in a 2" stream with the pumpkin seed included - didn't seem to affect germination at all - he always had wagon loads of them to feed his critters: I don't know as I would put my pole beans into my corn - just my personal opinion...
I have three sisters planting planned for this year. One patch with corn, beans, and pumpkin. Another with corn, sunflowers, and squash or cucumbers. In one of my books, I think it is Great Garden Companions, by Sally Jean Cunningham, there is a diagram of how to plant. It is not using the row method. If you are interested, I will try to scan that in later and post it, or at least type up the descriptions...
Here is the text while I attempt to scan in the diagrams...
"Wide Swath for Pumpkins...
Whether you're planting pumpkins as part of a Three Sisters plot or planting a whole pumpkin field, there is no such thing as a 3-foot-wide bed of pumpkins! Pumpkins crawl, sprawl, and stretch in all directions, regardless of paths and neighboring plants. So I (Sally Jean Cunningham) plan on that and give them double-wide beds, once again with a narrow board of stepping stones down the center for getting into the bed when harvesting. I plant my hills in alternating beds, leaving plenty of open space for them to fill as they grow.
"But I don't let that space go to waste! I either plant corn and beans for a Three Sisters combination, or I put wide sheets of black plastic in and around the pumpkin hills.
"There are two ways to plant the Three Sisters, as shown below and on page 80 [see diagrams in next post]. Both methods start with a circle of corn plants about 2 feet in diameter. Once the corn sprouts and reaches 6 inches tall, you can plant beans around the corn. Then, with one method, you plant the pumpkin seeds in a row between the hills.
"With the second method, you plant the pumpkin seeds at the edge of every seventh hill, as shown. When I use black plastic mulch around my pumpkins, I spread lot of aged or partially aged manure before I lay the plastic. Sometimes I put down leaves and shredded newspaper, too. (I'm careful not to let any "hot" manure touch my growing plants.) That way, I build the soil at the same time I have dedicated space to the pumpkins. Also, the plastic is wonderful for totally blocking weeds. I use it wherever weeds have been a problem and whenever I suspect the manure is not fully composted." (comes from her horse)
from Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham.
Have you decided how you are going to plant them, or if?
I measured out a space today, smaller than what I had planned. With Method 2, I can get all this in a 10x50' spot:
140 bean plants
10 pumpkin plants
Last year I grew 80 cornstalks in a 12x20 space. 500 sq feet this year, 240 last year. Way more than twice as much stuff in twice the size lot, I like it!
I will have double rows of sunflowers on the east and west side of the 5 circles. 200 linear feet of poly-petaled glory. Thanks for inspiring me, can't wait to get it planted. According to another thread, it is safe to plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrels ear. That would be about now where I live.
Somewhere I read a post about when to plant each of the three sisters, there were a week or two between each and a particular order to plant in. Did anyone else see it? I can't find it now. :( Is there a timing that you use?
My 2005 copy of the "Old Farmer's Almanac" says to plant the corn kernels when the danger of frost has passed, plant the bean seeds when the corn is about 5" tall, and then plant the squash seeds about a week later. :)
Did some measuring today, and wanted to pass this along. For the row method, Your bed will need to be at least 10 feet wide, plus walking area. I am going to use two 6 foot wide beds, and the walking space will be to get to the squash. Will start planting that corn tomorrow (early corn)
The cricle method only needs just under 10 ft.
Thinking about building a marker with my kids tinkertoys, to make the hexagon with 12 inch sides, and pokers to make the holes.
I have a teenage son who is nuts about fishing and is a daily source of fish (and fish guts). I think that I read someplace that Native Americans used to bury their dead fish (more likely the fish guts...since they ate the fish, presumably) in their corn mounds.
The only thing I can see wrong with this picture is that animals would dig up the mounds to eat the fish. Does anyone know when they put the fish there? Obviously I am trying to kill two birds with one stone here (solving my fish-gut disposal issue).
We have a number of feral cats roaming the yards and gardens. I am thinking of burying the cats with the fish, but am only held in check by the idea that the cats are keeping rabits from the garden.
You are correct. Animals like cats, possums skunks etc will come running to dig up buried fish heads. Other than that it works fine and you can bury them anytime they are available. As far as the Native American stories, most of these originated with coastal tribes, who had a surplus of fish during the spring spawning runs. There are still a lot of trash fish (like Menhaden) used in the commercial fertilizer industry.
I've thought about doing a three sisters planting in past years but never got around to working out the logistics and have planted lettuce and radishes between the corn instead. But this year will be different, thanks to all the good information you all have provided.
My current plan is to try TamaraFaye's method 1 in one of my 9-foot square beds. There will be a slight twist, which will cut out one squash plant. There is a permanently planted beautiful 5 foot red dahlia planted squarely in the middle where that pumpkin belongs. It will stay. Should look great peeking out from the corn and rising above the pumpkins. The other possible bed has a permanent artichoke in the
center. That would work too. Maybe next year.
If my current rainy day vision gets off the ground, so to speak, I will post photos in August or September.
oldseed...Hehehe...I taught my daughter the "buried fish fertilizer" method when she was about 5. She thought it was so cool! However, she realized how bad the fish guts smelled as we dug the holes to put them in for the corn patch. But heck, she helped me catch all those catfish outta the river, watched me clean them and enjoyed seeing their innards (I even showed her how to float the air bladder in the bucket of water and let her learn that is how fish determine their depth of swimming). It was good to see her learn to use every part of the fish and also benefitted from the sweet corn we grew that year!
I didn't have any troubles with animals digging up the fish but it could be that I buried it fairly deep and made sure to not leave any fish water or guts on top of the ground. I suppose if the fish isn't buried deeply enough animals would be enticed to sample some of it though. (I've also heard other folks say that the use of fish emulsion brings in the cats and misc animals but I've never had that problem either. Have no idea why though.)
I think you should use your son's fish guts/heads, etc. Just buy them deep. Don't think I'd add them to your compost pile though...the stink might upset your neighbors!
Ha! thanks horseshoe for the advice. My son's out tonight again for bullheads and will be cleaning them in the morning. The only kid I know who cleans fish and has them for breakfast. Tomorrow i'll have him put the fish in the future cornfield..deep!!
You're a mighty lucky Dad! Your son brings you the fish and it sounds like he cleans them for ya too!! Yay!!! Ya done good, bringin' that one up right! Wish I could join him fishing! (Then we could both watch him dig in the guts in your garden while we have that extra cup of coffee and supervise!) ;>)
Funny thing. The only thing I am truly allergic to is fish oil. I never could eat fish either or even stand the smell of fish. So it is a mixed blessing that my son brings in so much fish these days. Fortunately at seventeen he can catch them, clean them, make a great batter and cook them...but nothing being perfect, I usually end up doing the dishes! He can donate the fish remains to the Three Sisters and make the vegetable goddesses happy, and I won't mind.
We count our blessings being also grateful that "ain't nothin' perfec".
oldseed, I too didn't have a problem with animals digging up fish parts. Last year i got dead minnows from our local bait shop. They were always frozen in bags. Lazy me, I didn't even dig a hole, just buried them under the alfalfa mulch that i had hilled the corn with. Alfalfa is good for corn, deters the fall armyworm... Anyhow, maybe the strong scent of the alfalfa helped, or the fact htat most of the fish were pretty small, though someitmes fifty in a bag.
Shoe you can come fishing up here, Walleye Capital of the World! Or join us in Texhoma for the RU!
CA Poppy~ I love your ideas and vision! I definitely want pictures. The only picture I could provide right now is of a row cover I got on today LOL. The tinkertoys were unnecessary. simply make a cricle and put six-eight (or more) evenly spaced, then thin to six. Then I did a little extra with the space in between: Cosmos between the corn, and dwarf marigolds in front of the cosmos, then radishes sprinkled all around (to help deter squash bugs, let them go to seed). When I plant the squash, I will plant nasturtiums with them (see the thread on companion planting)
FYI~ A friend of mine who is also doing three sisters this year told me an interesting story last week. She had been curious about the cricles of corn, so she asked her grandmother if she could read their family heirloom gardneing journal. It was written in by her GGGF, around civil war time. The pages are yellowing, but what she could make out looked like two rows of corn with one row of squash, then two of corn. Also, it mentioned a "green vine", and she isn't sure if that is referring to the squash or pole beans. It is very difficult to read and written in old english language and handwriting style. Sounds fascinating. So that is how she will plant. She will add the beans though, bush and pole, because I shared some info with her on the companion beneifts of the two.
"Planting Tips: Bush beans are good legume companions for corn as long as you time plantings so that the beans aren't flowering at the smae time the corn is tasseling. If these two stages coincide, the plants will be competing for water. Plant beand either one or two weeks after corn emerges in the early summer, or in the late summer just before it's time to harvest the corn." "The key to succes lies in planitng dates. In Columbia, beans planted 20-30 days before corn reduced fall army worms; corn planted 20-40 days before beans reduced leafhoppers. [Altieri, Miguel A. 1978. A review of Insect Prevalence in Maize and Bean. Polycultural Systems 1:33-49] You may wish to study this relationship in yuor own garden"
Although this refers to bush beans, previously in the text, it generally spoke of "legume companions", so I thought this owuld help with YET ANOTHER answer on the timing of the palntings... :-) I will post a little more info in the companion planitng thread...
I planted in the 3 sisters method this past weekend. My garden is smaller tho and I only have two circles. I have more corn (a different variety) in another garden bed and did that in rows with potatoes, broccoli, and onions. I started all the plants indoors in the greenhouse but I have more seeds I could put in. I didn't do the timing thing with the seeds I started indoors and I put them all in the ground on the same day. I also put sunflowers between the circles and behind the pumpkins and I put sweet peas and morning glories along the fence. I have more space and lots more seeds so I guess I should expand for a bumper crop.
I had read about the fish emulsion and the Indian thing too and while I was planting, dh said one of our tny goldfish was dead in the pond so I told him to bring it over and I buried it in the center of one of the corn circles. It was tiny but boy did it reek!
We moved into this house this past January so this is our first time with a *major* (for us) garden. We have toyed with a few plants here and there in the past and while we've ended up with a few corn, tomatoes, and some lettuce, I've never had real success with pumpkins, have never tried potatoes, broccoli, nor onions. So we're hoping for some success this year! I'm enjoying reading all the companion gardening books and also tried the lasagne method in two beds, altho I have not put anything in those beds yet. I was saving one for strawberries but when I called to order the plants, they told me it was too late in the season. :( Maybe I will put the tomatoes in there.
Gwen, it may not be too late, try to order from Simmons Berry Farm, they are growers, and have very good prices, plus you get the plants direct. I don't have my bed ready yet :-( You can call them and get a free catalog as well..
Your garden sounds great! If you have any daturas, they are supposed to help pumpkins grow if planted nearby.
Two circles should do fine, I have seen other people do that, but I never stopped to ask them about their yield, so who knows? I would be concerned about having the sunflowers BETWEEN the circles, if that is what you said, because that will inhibit pollination. But if they are just between the other corn and the circles, that is perfect. Just wasn't clear on which you meant.
Glad you are enjoying companion planting! I am finding out that those "don't plant together" theories really make a difference when you are planting in small beds, or using intensive methods. I have some interesting findings on the tomato/cabbage myth, join me at the other companion planting thread...
I got the other 20 ft row of 5 circles planted the other day. So soon I will be planting the winter squash. Still tyring to keep the rabbits off the corn that is up, just have a row cover on it, and the radishes don't like the extra heat very much! (I just threw out a bunch of seed to keep away the squash bugs)
I plan on planting the three sisters in August which, for our area, is the next time corn can be planted. But I'm wondering about squirrels. We have a terrible problem with them under normal conditions, I'd hate to attract more with the corn. Does anyone have any experience/advice with this problem? Margaret
I had to quit growing corn for quite a few years, dang it! Squirrels would get to it long before I did, and they got more of it, too. (They still eat more of our peaches than we get also!)
For some reason, this past summer we had our first corn patch in a long time and the squirrels left it alone. Didn't touch a single ear. And we have 100's of squirrels around here!
The only thing I can remember doing different is using Espoma plant food tilled into the ground before planting. I have no idea if that somehow deterred the squirrels or not...(I seriously think not!) but sure is funny how they left my corn alone.
Only other deterrent I can offer (other than a gun) is to keep a dog out there that hates squirrels as much as I do (well, I actually love squirrels; just prefer them fried or in a piquante sauce) or just be up early and run them off before they have breakfast on your tab. Of course now, a small patch could be fenced in I suppose but would need to have a top on it, too.
Horseshoe, A gun sounds good to me but I have a few neighbors that would probably have a problem with it. I've never heard of Espoma plant food. What is it and is it readily available at garden shops? I'm a fairly new gardener so I'm not up on many products. I do have a couple of dogs, but the fenced area that we allow them in really doesn't have room because we already have a grapefruit, blood orange, carambola and avocado in that area. I did think of a cage as well, but that seems like a lot of work. Margaret
I remember reading in her book that Ruth Stout spent $300 on a cage (a LONG time ago), chain link, roof and all. It lasted her for years though, because she didn't rotate her crops. Must be to cold there for corn smut!
The only squirrels we have are at the nieghbors, and they never even cross the street. They were relocated there (i.e., trapped where they weren't wanted and brought where they were wanted).
On of the purposes of the three sisters is to deter racoons from getting to the corn. They don't like crawling or stepping on the pumpkin vines. Wouldn't squash or cucumbers do the same? You just need them sprawling on the ground. Put out a few stepping stones for yourself, under big leaves where they won't be found by the critters. So maybe it would work for squirrels as well...
If you try, would you be so kind as to let us know? And have a quiet little pellet gun on hand, just in case. Or maybe a slingshot?
TamaraFaye, I was wondering the same thing myself about the squirrels not wanting to step on the vines. We also have a couple of pine trees in the vicinity of where we'll want to do our planting. I'm planning on having those cut down due to their close proximity to the house (hurricane preparation) and that may deter the squirrels also since they won't have anywhere to climb if I let my dogs out in that part of the yard.
We do have a pellet gun, but I like your idea of a slingshot because I think my nine year old son could really get into that. It'll be a while before I can give you an update on our experience since our Ext. Office recommends the next corn planting for August. Margaret
Has anybody considered doing succesive planting for their circles. Due to circumstances beyond my preference, my two rows of circles are planted 3 weeks apart (Oops, don't recommend, since they pollinate for TWO weeks) Couldn't help it.
So on my big circles of circles, I was thinking of beginning at the north end (wind prevails from SW), and working my way over a couple of weeks, maybe longer, to the south end? Try to plant each large circle within about one week of the next... For a total of five big circles. It would give a longer harvest time, for corn and beans and pumpkins.
TamaraFaye and the others. This sounds really interesting. I would love to try the Three Sisters. Does it require a lot of room? Do any of you have pictures of your plants so far? I garden in raised beds right now. Can you do it in a raised bed?
TamaraFaye, where in the world is Fritch TX and did you really get snow in May???
OOps, my corn has really enjoyed the "unseasonal" snow and rain (Yes, Laura, 6" on May 2nd, melted by 3 PM, then 100 degrees F on May 22nd!), so it is far ahead of the beans. But I will get it done soon enough I suppose...
Fritch is NE of Amarillo. Closer to 5 or 6 other states than to Corpus LOL
Corn loves RBs. I would start them in a trench, so they can get strong roots, otherwise the wind can blow them over, because you soil in a RB is so much looser. Then make sure and hill them when they are just above the trench, and again when they are less than 1 foot high.
Also, in a RB, you would not have to have the rows so far apart. I did and intensive bed last year. kinda like jburesh, and I planted them the smae distance apart each way, 12 inches.
Of course, if you do the circles, that would be fun in a RB also. But if it isn't at least 10 foot wide, you would have to just do the beans and corn in the small circles in rows, like Method 1 above. Then you could do like jburesh (I love this idea), and trellis your squash around the sides. Just leave the south side open for enough sun. Maybe plant the squash by the trellis, but let it grow some on the ground, as the point of the squash is to mulch the ground for the corn, to hold in moisture and keep out heat, and to protect from varmints. Then the corn shades the squash.
WE are gettin gstomrs here, so I need to hurry and get off, maybe tomorrow morning I can post ap icture of my corn row, though I am not sure you can see much about it yet...
Taht corn is growing! See some tassels peeking up already! Got the first row of circles fertlized, pruned, hilled, and watered. Now look at what I just read:
RADISH: Plant radishes with your squash plants. Radishes may protect them from squash borers! Anything that will help prevent this is worth a try. Planting them around corn and letting them go to seed will help fight corn borers.
I need all the help with corn borers I can get! I planted the radish there for the squash, so I guess it will do double duty. I also read that wild purslane is a great ground cover for corn, and have some of that growing there. Ate some in our salad yesterday...
My camera is acting up, but I will attempt a decent photo tomorrow.
How is everyone else's three sisters (or two) going?
Here is my circle. Though you can't much tell it is a circle... There are nasturtium planted in there too. I also have a number of volunteer tomato plants that I haven't the heart to kill quite yet. I've just dressed the surface with used coffee grounds so the dirt looks very black.
That looks great, I think I see Marigolds in there too? And what is your trellis for? How long till you plant the beans? What kind of corn did you plant?
I took some pictures, now if I can just find the camera and get them loaded before I fall asleep LOL. I did get beans planted in the first row, the one I hilled. The other row I uncovered today to work on. Two circles have some rabbit damage (ends of row covers open to stay cool). Squash and zinnias and marigolds are up nicely. And a surprise volunteer watermelon plant looks like it is ready to bloom! had to cover them back up when storms came through. Didn't get to do anything with it, we had an incident at the gas plant. No damage, just injured eardrums, and a wasted day :(
Started another three sisters bed today. True Gold Sweet Corn, Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans, and Heart of Gold Melon.
I got some recycled landscape timbers, 6 of them, 8 foot long. Made a bed 8 ft wide by 16 long. Well, the spacing isn't perfect, because after figuring out I would need to only have two foot between circles, I got out there and had four circles dug 3 foot apart before I recalled. But it will all squeeze in:
11 total circles of corn (10 seeds each, will thin to seven-ouch), with 8 seeds of beans (will thin to four). This time I remembered to put corn in the center, two seeds actually, will keep the better seedling.
The circles are arranged four down each long side, then three staggered down the center, kinda like a double five on a domino, with an extra center thrown in. The melon "hills" are down the center, between the corn, so there will be four of those.
For companion flowers, I will put in marigolds and cosmos again, and then scatter the bed full of tokinashi daikon radish, which are supposed to germinate and grow in warm weather. Then I will border the outside of the bed with sunflowers, a double staggered row. Then a rectangular walkway around it, and rectangle of okra around that, recatngles of sunflowers around that.
Hah! That should keep the corn from crossing with another (I hope).
Will take a picture after I finish tomorrow (got five circles done tonight)...
corn was good! been offf pc from hand injury, anyone else want to report on their plantings?
next year i will try the Zuni Waffle Method from the above link.
Rather than printing it out like i did, you can call their 800 number & request a free publication called Companion Planting it includes three sisters, three methods. also request intro packet,, this is a gov't sponsored site, so get your tax dollars worth!
After reading about the three sisters we decided to give it a try. My kids are studying Colonial America and Native Americans. I thought that might be a good time to learn about planting the three sisters. We planted it...oh, I don't remember when, end of August beginning of September??
So far it looks really good. We planted corn, kentucky pole beans and sugar baby pumpkins. My attempts at corn this year have been a mixed sucess. It grew fabulous but was devoured by funky caterpillars. I tried the mineral oil trick and am using some garden and veggie bug spray. Organic is hard!! I have even more respect for organic farmers than I did before!!
i have found that they don't eat much. planting sunflowers with [or near] my corn attracts the assasin bugs that eat the moths that lay these eggs. mineral oil works, but only when applied at the right time [should have worked for you].
we barely got corn from our next-to-last crop [the last crop i just let go]. when i picked them, i took them to the guinea cage to open them up, and gave the worms to them LOL. they even ate the worm "castings" must be good corn! :-P
if you get them early enough, they can't eat much. some ears though had four or five baby worms starting out! they get darker in color and bigger the longer they eat your corn!
if you do decide to do anothe veggie bed next year, try these: bush beans, marigolds, and small potatoes! i promise very few bugs can get past that grouping heehee
We hope to. Just before they found my tumor I had bought a Three Sisters Garden Package from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange to do a fall planting, but I'm hoping my husband will plant it for spring. I'm sure experienced gardeners wouldn't feel the need to buy a "package", but for me it seemed a simple way to get started since I've never done it before. The package comes with enough corn, bean and squash seeds to plant a 25 food circle. Thanks for reminding me Tamara. Margaret
I'm definitely going to try this just to carry on the tradition. I also hear it cuts back on the weeding if you plant enough squash. I'm for anything that reduces weeding! I wonder if it makes any difference if it is summer or winter squash?
that would depend on whether you plant long or short season corn, and when you plant it. there is a recommendation onn how many days between planting the three. corn firts, then beans, squash last. if you do summer squash make sure it is not the bush type.
other melons work too, like watermelons, pumpkins, etc.
just customize it to suit you, or to suit when you can plant.
make sure to check out the info at the attra link above. if you don't want to preint it out, you can call their 800 number and get ANY of their publications mailed to you FREE of charge. our tax dollars at work LOL
I just read a book that said the Delawares dug a big hole, buried the fish, mounded the dirt back up and planted 3 seeds of corn and the squash at the same time. Came back later and planted to beans. Now that's in Northern US I'm quite certain.
yes, of course it can be done in a raised bed, as long as it gets enough moisture. i can even see it done in a square foot bed! if i do it this year, that may be how!
because of our lack of rain, i sorta block mine in with some lumber, then mulch it heavily.
dmj, did you get the publication i suggested? it is FREE (well, you already paid for it with your tac dollars LOL), and it give the three very DIFFERENT ways of planting the three sisters. it also gives the original story of where the name came from.
when everyone gets theirs planted, might i suggest a Three Sisters Two thread to show off all the pictures [esp the raised beds!]
yes. try to select culitvars that will stagger out the maturity. you can't have it all ready at once... esp not all blooming at once, as they would be hogging the water and soil nutrients from each other. in a raised bed with good soil and extra natural nutrients added, that won't be as much a problem. if you use synthetic fertilizer, then it could throw things off, you would have to reapply a lot.
if the days to maturity are the same, then you stagger them out 2 weeks to a month apart.
if th days are different, you could plant them much closer together, even at the same time, or 10 days apart.
try planting under good moon signs as well. i have a feeling, with all this weird weather, we need as many cards in our favor as possible, so working with the flow of nature could be an extra benefit!
also, look for the thread that talks aobut the remedy for preventing those mildew diseases that happen with squash, melons, and pumpkins. it really works!
in the first planting, i planted my beans too late, and all the winter squash i set out were attacked by bugs and then drought, but the watermelons in the same place [other row], did very well indeed!. the early corn did great!
then in my second planting, it was too late for beans, the muskmelon was looking great, but some critter kept coming to eat them while they were small. i caged one, an looked forward to eating it. then i had surgery and it rotted ;-( the second corn did very well, though, despite the heat, drought, and neglect LOL
my seven year old wants his own three sisters planting this year. haven't decided which melon yet though
the first year i did corn with pole beans, it was an afterthought, and after the corn was done, the beans really took over, hmmmmmm...
this may have been how i came to the conclusion that early corn with late squash was not a good match. so if i plant early corn, i will do an early melon with it. hey, no big deal here if the beans don't grow, i am the only one who likes them fresh from the garden!
Hello all ! My Traditional Medicine Class in Toronto ON has decided to seriously look into detoxifying the Native Land on a reserve here in Ontario that is polluted and toxic 4-5 feet down from the soil surface. I mean this land is inhabitable. Deemed unsafe to live on...however; it is assigned reservation land and the population living there has little or no choice.
We have discussed planting 3-Sisters plants on this land to extract the toxins from it...it can be done. It will take several years to clean the soil up but yes, it can be done.
We will need to plant "non edible" beans, corn and squashes so that no person, animal or bird is poisoned by them. They will leach the toxins out of the soil and carry it within the plants themselves.
The obvious corn of choice would be an ornamental type corn that would not be eaten. We can plant gourd or ornamental type squash plants and what I am wondering is if anyone knows of or has seeds for a non-edible bean?
Please, any and all suggestions for this project would be appreciated and considered. We are a tiny group of volunteers without funds and will have to do this on a shoestring.
And no, we will not seek government financial support or assistance for this program. Obviously the reservation has little or no funds either. Its an extremely poor community that lacks money, housing and even clean soil, air and water to draw from.
Again, any ideas or suggestions would be more than welcome.
All the best to each of you.
Chi Miigwetch (Thank you very much)
AprilHillside...first, a hearty WELCOME TO DG!
Come on in, make yourself at home!
My first thoughts to your quandary are to utilize plants like Sunflower, mustard, fast-growing trees (Poplar?). These, and other plants, are now being used in "phytoremediation" programs.
"And no, we will not seek government financial support or assistance for this program."
Why not? I bet the gov had a hand in polluting the land; perhaps you can at least get monies for seeds/research?
As for an inedible bean, what immediately comes to mind is "Jack Bean" (Canavalia). Although it is sometimes eaten (if boiled enough times) by humans it is mainly grown as a green manure crop in certain countries. (It is also eaten by certain communties but 'tis the plant itself and not the bean that is eaten. However, on your reservation, I would think that putting the word out to not eat it would be in everyones best interest). "Jack Bean" grows much bigger than most bean plants so would possibly be a good crop for you...however, I'm not the least familiar with your growing season and temperatures to firmly say.
Again...welcome to DG! And if you will, please tell us more about how we can help.
I have a few questions about your project. Do the plants have to be just the Three Sisters, or be native to North America and/or traditionally used by native people? What do you do with the plants afterward? What's growing there now?
I can think of a few plants that would help detoxify the soil, but they're mostly "weeds" that you wouldn't want to introduce without a lot of consideration!
BTW: I would love it if someone around here taught traditional medicine. I have several books on the subject, but I wouldn't even consider trying anything without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. My mother's side of the family is of Acadian/Mi' Kmaq descent, and my grandmother was a skilled herbal practitioner, but, alas, I didn't become interested in it until after she had passed away, and my mom and her sisters didn't pick up any of it. : (
To each of you for the warm welcome back to DG. I have missed this place. Life just got too busy. Not enough hours in the day !
Thank you Horseshoe for your insight and suggestions. The Jac Bean sounds very promising. As for the inedidibility of the plants...its not just for humans that we must be concerned...it is for the animals and birds that might try to feed off them. Heck, they havent seen plant life there in so long they might yell "Wow, party!!" and feast on these plants. I would hope they would know but its not worth the risk. These plantings definately must be "inedible"
Waves to Emaewest for your questions. These plants dont have to be Traditional Native plants but the Three Sisters are significant to our culture and as they are sturdy strong stocked plants in themselves I believe they would be ideal.
Ornamental corn, Ornamental squash and Ornamental or medicinal beans (I would consider Jack beans medicinal if they are used as fertilizer in the soil) would be both practical and representative of our culture. So, if at all possible I would like to stick with that theme.
What a wonderful thing for your ancestors to have been Medicine Herbalists. I would say with some confidence that you would also have an affnity for the herbs yourself Rhonda. These "talents" are not randomly chosen. They are in the blood or "genes". If you have any inclination at all towards learning about the herbs and their healing properties I would encourage you to learn all that you can. If you like? I will ask my teacher if he knows any other herbalists in your area that might guide you? Just let me know in an email where you are and let me ask ok?
Our teacher is Mik Maq also and he is from the East coast ! He works in Toronto as an herbalist, speaks at conferences and is consulted by drug companys, doctors who are perplexed by specific cases and treats individuals. He knows his stuff and is very very passionate and knowledgable about it. He teaches us without charge so that it will have a 'ripling' affect amongst all people. As you know, our medicines cannot be sold...they are given. Even when the 4 Sacred Medicines are exchanged for money in our centres ...the money is a 'donation' to the organization that it is from. A donation to that centre or group. We cannot 'sell' it.
TamaraFaye: Thank you for the insight into the mustards and castor beans. Perhaps we could include them too. Esp. if the ground was surrounded with the Three Sisters and the squash vines and leaves discouraged critters from entering the field? The mustard and castor beans could perhaps be planted inside the perimeter?
Disposal of the plant material is something to ponder. I would like to add some of it to a worm composter, just to see the affect it has? I think that would be indicative of what those plants actually contain. I wonder too if the worms would have a way of disgesting those toxins in small amounts and processing it out of their bodies in the way of clean castings? I guess its possible?
If nothing else, I think we will have to build giant composters to dispose of the plant matter and let it at least break down into something smaller to deal with. Again, if it was mixed with non-toxic materials, brought in from elsewhere, it might just neutralize it? or at least "water it down" somewhat? I hope that would be the case. It will take some research for sure.
I hope that some soil specialists might want to participate on their own, even if its out of interest or for educational purposes. We will see.
As for govt funding or approval, interaction...not a chance. Yes Shoe, the govt definately had the biggest hand in responsibility for the toxic condition of that part of Mother Earth but we will not seek their assistance or funding. This is Natives helping Natives. The govt has done enough damage and it is no accident that this place is toxic.
Shoe, in your country, your govt. did its best to wipe out native people blatantly. In Canada it was thru "Assimilation" and our govt was less "open and honest" about eradicating my people. We were constantly moved from one "Reserve" to another whenever it was discovered that there were minerals or some other purpose of that land was attractive.
Much of our "reserved" land is nothing but rock and of little or no use to grow anything on or of any use other than to squat on. Waterways are polluted with toxic wastes, forests are taken down to stubble and as we all know that annialates the wildlife, plants...esp. the medicines and all life. Our people have no say in any of these things but must live with the consequences of the disastrous actions of 'others'.
Drawing up proposals for govt assistance would sit in the red tape file for years and never be addressed. There would be no action on the govts part. And besides, there is extreme principle (principal?) - never could get those two straight.
There is something gently powerful about our own people helping each other and that would include mainstream folks who would want to lend a hand. Their participation would never be unwelcomed. We only wish to right what is wrong so that the Anishnawbe that must live on that deemed land may do so without poisoning themselves with every breath they take and every drink that they consume. More than this...these conditions poison their "Spirit". It is our way to share all that we have and all that we are.
Our Medicine Wheel is of the 4 Sacred Colours - red, yellow, black and white. This represents all people. All children are sacred bundles. All life on this earth is sacred.
This website is filled with people from all walks of life, from all over Turtle Island that feel the Spirit of the land and its contents and life force. Mother Earth speaks to each of you. You share your knowledge, your advice and your seeds with one another so freely. That is our way also. You are the lucky ones and the blessed. Ahau
Forgive me for ranting. I dont mean to. But, I do hope it gives you some insight into what we are trying to accomplish to heal Mother Earth and a small number of our people. This healing goes way beyond the soil.
Bless you all for your kindness and response and please feel free to ask questions or make suggestions of any sort. They are most welcome.
You are quite welcome. Now that i have a few spare minutes on DG to think about your plan, i am wondering if you have considered starting with some wild plants [not necessarily native], AKA weeds. Wonderful studies have been done on why weeds grow certain places, and how they imporve the soil. For instance, Russian Thistle, or Tumbleweeds, tend to grow where there is too much salt in the soil. They actually absorb thw salt,a nd CONVERT it. Here for instance, they absorbed potassium sulfate, and once i mulched them, they returned potassium to the soil. Weeds, or wild plants, can tell us what is IN the soil, and what the soil LACKS, just by seeing what is growing there. Then you can use the weed to improve the soil. Your soil could be so awful, that no culitvated plant [like three sisters] will be able to grow to maturity. Just a thought. I can recommend some books on the subject. Also, they recliamed tons of acres of salt ridden farmland in Colorado by using the Russian Thistle and Aqua-Nu, which is hard to explain. Maybe you can google and find the study.
Growing something which has the ability to absorb toxins and convert them, then replace vital nutrients that are lacking, would solve the problem of animals eating toxic plants and of how to dispose of them.
Yay, I just found this thread. Thanks for bumping it, TF! I also have Great Garden Companions and am going to plant my first garden this year (we just moved and finally have a big sunny garden area). I'm planning on doing the three sisters and lots of other companion planting. I hope it works! I realize I have high hopes this year, so I hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment. I'm sure gardening is the kind of thing you perfect throughout the years.
I have read about the 3 sister's garden design. I am still not sure if this would work for a plot that is 5' x 4'??????????? Anyone know? I have 3 of these sized plots next to each other, seperated by 2' of grass for mowing purposes. Can I just do like one mound per block???? thanks.
i would suggest that you have two circles per block, though i don't know which direction they run. you only need five feet between the centers of your corn circles, and with the 2 feet in between for grass, that makes two cricles PER block. and since you should have at least two rows of these circles for good polinati0on, i would say stagger the circles.
for example: starting from the right plot, a corn circle in the upper right corner, one in the lower left corner. repeat for each plot. then, when you later plant your melon or squash, put a "mound" of those in the center of each plot. the other corners i would put companion flowers: nasturtium does well in cool climates with part shade. cosmos are WONDERFUL, and marigolds of course. zinnia will attract your pollinators too,a nd make great cut flowers. in fact, i regularly cut all my companion flowers for vase arrangements, which encourages more blooms.
but, then again, are these framed in? corn doesn't like to be crowded by grass... so you might consider some wood or concrete blocks to keep the grass from spreading in with the corn and suffocating it when they are seedlings. i personally like sunflowers for reducing grass. just don't put the sunflowers BETWEEN the corn, as that would inhibit pollination.
last year i planted radish THICKLY ALL OVER the beds when i planted the corn. i didn't thin themuntil some were ready to eat. i left plety to go to seed. this kept away two kinds of pest, once which bothers corn and lays some kind of worm that eats your corn, and one that attacts your squash, i think the moth that lays squash vine borer eggs. it was supposed to keep away the squash bugs, but i didn't plant any close enough to the squash i guess ;-(
please don't hold me to any of this, just coming off some groggy medications... ;-)
good luck! and remember to not plant the beans at the same time, and choose varities with similar maturity dates, so that, when planted 2-4 weeks apart, they won't be all in bloom and competing for water at the same time.
i think your size plots are perfect, and wish you much success!
Hmm, this looks like a good way to utilize space in our small veggie garden!
What varieties of corn and beans did everyone use?
And has anyone tried cucumbers rather than squash or melons? (not so big on the squash, but love fresh cukes)
for the circles i like to use an early sweet corn, they mature fast, can handle the cold, and don't grow as tall. Triple Play from SOC is my favorite. True Gold works well too.
you needs the beans to NOT mature at the same time as the corn. not a problem if you plant the same time, usually. i like Kentucky Wonder and Black Seeded Blue Lake, they produce well in my dry climate. be sure to hill your corn and mulch everything heavily to conserve water. plant companioon flowers to discourage pests...
this year i want to plant my old favorite Stowell's Sweet Corn. And try a large bean with it, like Jack in the Beanstalk. But i will do rows, as that corn gets REALLY tall LOL. I will try to let you know how it goes.
you would need more of a bush cuke, since normal ones need to climb, they don't crawl like squash. you could, however, do pumpkins or gourds... seem i have read somthing about cukes and corn not being good companion plants...
one year i planted a small square of an heirloom corn, and put up two small panels to grow cukes on. the cukes did great in the shade of the corn, but the corn didn't fair as well as i had hoped.
dont' forget sunflowers with your corn!
do a search to see what cukes go well with, there is a lot of companion planting infor on Dave's...
i have NEVER been disappointed with a three sisters planting...
I had already planned a row of sunflowers along the back fence, before I started in the back with the three sisters, (of which have a couple of hills with beans and a few with peas) various peppers, some tomatoes interplanted with basil, and then some salad greens and onions...and cheery lil nasturtuims around the lot.
I have actually heard that cukes and corn went well together, and had hoped to plant the peppers next and in a row along that edge..but I could see where the cukes would pull down the corn, and the bushier types not fare so well..(I did read on one of the linky's form here, that the cukes would grow up the sunflowers..hmmm...)
sunflowers have a natural resistance to climbers and will repel beans and cucumbers. sunflowers and corn together in the same space will starve the other of light and nitrogen, but in the same field will attract different pollinators, predators, and different minerals accumulated. the squash should be a vining winter squash variety. maximas and mochatas are doing better against the borers and fungus. the beans should be a cornfield bean which can handle more shade with larger leaves, and the corn cannot be sweet or pop corn, which are smaller and weaker than necessary. the corn is planted first, the week of the last frost. when the first corn starts germinating, see which spots are not coming up and replant them with soaked seed. when the average corn plant is about a hand tall, that is time to plant the beans. if you are in a long season area, you can plant the squash at the same time as the bean, but if you are in a short season area, plant it with the corn alittle closer to the edge. they should be planted in hills, i make mine six feet across. the corn is planted in hexagons in the center of the hills, the hills only far enough away to walk between them. this way the corn from each hill is capable of wind pollination without touching each other, and touch-eachother corn is against the rules. it causes the evolution of super disease as we have seen in the past 400 years. so you would have 7-12 corn, 10-20 beans, 3-5 squash, and one tomato if you want, but no more. the corn accumulates the nitrogen for mulch and next year's fertility, while producing a stalk for the beans that nitrogenate the soil for this year as it feeds the corn, and the beans and corn supply the little shade needed by the squash that shades the rest of the ground from the sun and keeps down weeds. additionally you can use radish in the squash, which do not get harvested so its good for your heirloom radish you want the seed from. one morning glory with the beans attracts more pollinators which the squash needs more and more as the years go by. the hills need to be mulched. i keep at least an inch or two of mulch on at all times, and thats after its flattened so if its fresh usually its 6 inches. in the southwest and desert areas that do not have as much rain or mulch material, you can carve concave areas instead of hills, this way the bowl catches any water there is, and the seedlings are deeper in the ground closer to the water. when the corn gets taller than the hole dug, then it can be filled back in with sand. which will allow the water to get trapped in without getting hot or coming back out. a swale can be dug above the three sister's patch for extra water infiltration in the desert.
if anyone has questions or comments, wishes to discuss things, please let me know. check out my website where i keep photos of my three sisters hills. http://goodmindseeds.wordpress.com
well, i'm in a suburban area in south florida, zone 10a-b.
I have one raised concrete block bed, getting ready to create another, was thinking of doing them next to each other, but uncertain of a few things:
1: when do I start seedlings down here?
2: I have 4 x 6-8 foot bed...can i even do the hexagon thing in there?
3: If yes to no. 2, how many hills or hexes?
4: Any other companion planting, like marigolds or parsley or basil or something?
I just received two different sets of three sisters mix, and uncertain which one to do, or if I should do them both but keep separated in different beds.
I also wanted to know who sprawling everything is going to get; my watermelon and summer squash took over my HUGE planting bed and smothered everything else.
Jumping in a couple of years into the conversation here. I have a 4x10 plot of corn with summer squash and zucchini growing on each end of it. Along each side of it are scarlet runner beans. There are one or two peas running around inside the patch.
The corn is about thigh high, beans are running - no blooms yet - and squashes are in bloom with young fruit on them. Everything is healthy and happy. We will see what July brings. 8-)