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The "Native American Three Sisters Garden" is a traditional method of interplanting corn, beans and squash in a series of mounds. This would be a very interesting garden project for kids or anyone who wants to try something "tried and true".
Three Sisters gardening is a beautiful concept, but apparently the Native Americans didn't care about how it looked. I've tried 3 times to do this, and all it results in is an overgrown mess. Be prepared to step on, and around stuff all summer. It was much harder for me, and I'm a very experienced veggie gardener.
As I understand this method, the corn gives the beans something to climb on, and the squash/pumpkin vines shade the ground for all the plants to reduce the amount of watering needed -- so, yep, I would think it would not be a neat, tidy garden.
Yep, the beans and the squash both climb the corn...which has to be planted earlier to gain enough stalk to hold up the vines. The vines don't care whether they climb around,or strangle the corn ears, there are weeds and grass which I never completely got rid of, and in the end, the beans and the squash pulled over, and consumed the corn.
I've done it every way imaginable, but never came close to the same harvest I would have gotten if I had planted separately. I can then tend each veggie properly, and there isn't so much vegetation that I don't see pests before they get a big foothold.
If anyone has done this successfully, I would love to hear your experience.
Ahhh yes, they're talking about far smaller plantings than I'd even consider. For me, I've got to have about 1/2 acre of corn to even consider messing with it. The harvests that they're getting will make a couple of meals, and they're done in 'flowerbed' type plantings where they can cultivate and weed to their heart's content.
That makes far more sense as far as being able to control the plants and pests. I do plant pumpkins around my corn patch to deter the coons, but we don't have much problems with them as it is anyway.
If you do it on the same small scale that they are talking about, you'll be successful. But the harvests will be smaller too because of how few plants are involved.
I did this with just corn and beans when we lived in the city and I had a very small spot to garden in. I planted a small plot of corn and waited until it was almost mature, then planted a couple string beans around each cornstalk. These beans were planted late; I was in no hurry. I just left it at that till the corn came in.
Yes, it was a bit of a mess, but I could squeeze through and tiptoe around the beans and harvest the cobs OK. If I had planted squash too, it would have been much more difficult to step into the plot. Late in the season, after the corn plants had pretty much dried up, the beans were there for the picking like little "freebies." I was impressed by the productivity and that the beans didn't mind some shade.
I guess if you had to clear forest trees away to have your corn plots like the Native Americans did, you'd be forced to be as efficient as possible (?) Anyway, kind of like melody, I now have plenty of room for everything and, so, less incentive.
I've not planted the squash with the beans and corn, but have planted beans and corn together with excellent results. The corn stalks support the beans and I've had the best yields on both when I plant them together.
How about corn in a circle, with bush beans and 'bush' squash in the middle in a pattern, or something like that. A half acre could be ten rows of corn with one row of beans and one or two squash thrown in. ???
Do 'they' make bush growing pumpkins? Maybe the big tangle is for the mature, dried product. I'm thinking too much!