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Allotment Growing - Three Sisters

Allotment Crops - Three Sisters - Corn - Beans- Squash

Allotment Growing - Three Sisters Growing - Sweetcorn - Beans - Squash - companion planting

Three Sisters Growing is a technique and tradition that goes back a long way. Thought to originate with the Native American Indians - in particular The Iroquois of the southern Great Lakes.

It involves growing three plants together - Sweetcorn, Climbing Beans and Squash / Pumpkins.

The three then benefit each other. The corn grows tall providing a framework for the beans to grow up. The beans help to anchor the corn and fix nitrogen into the soil for fertility. The squash provide dense foliage to keep down weeds and to retain moisture in the soil.

An ideal combination and a nice thing to grow - which might make you feel more connected to the land and tradition.

Also highly practical - making good use of space, producing three useful crops in one growing bed and providng lots of foliage as material for the compost bin to return to enrich the ground the following year.

This can all be grown from seeds sown direct in the bed - although I prefer to bring on my corn and squash plants in pots before planting out. The beans can be sown as seed.

The best time to do this is in May - or a little later - depending on local weather conditions. If possible - prepare the ground the previous Autumn by spreading some compost or well rotted manure.

Sow the corn first - or plant once seedlings are four to five inches high. Next - sow or plant the squash - once the corn is established and growing up - after two to three weeks Sow the bean seeds at the same time.


Three Sisters - Sowing and Planting - Varieties

Any variety of sweetcorn can be used - provided it is suitable for local weather conditions and temperatures. Here in the UK I always use a variety recommended for our conditions.

Any climbing bean will do - according to preference - runner bean or climbing french bean varieties. My favourite is the Borlotti Bean Firetongue.

For the squash a trailing variety is best to give maximum ground cover from the foliage - rather than bush type varieties.

 
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