Saturday, February 09, 2008
Corn, Squash, and Beans - The Three Sisters of the Garden
My vegetable garden is made up of raised beds. There are eight beds that are 4’ x 8’, three beds that are 4’ x 4’, three beds that are 2’ x 8’, two small beds that are 2’ x 4’ and one bed that is 2’ x 6’. This gives me 392 square feet to plant in.
Subtract from that 32 square feet that I planted with strawberries, and 16 square feet for the center bed where I planted a dwarf apple tree and I end up with 344 square feet of raised bed planting area for the rest of the vegetables.
Normally, I plant each bed with one type of vegetable. A bed of tomatoes, one of beans, one of peppers, another with squash.
The only bed that is mixed is the one I plant in the early spring with peas, lettuce, spinach, onions and radishes and the last bed I plant where all the “leftovers” end up.
But that is going to change.
I have decided that it might be a little bit more interesting overall to plant a variety of vegetables in each bed.
I’m starting first with the bed where I plant the corn. This year I am again planting the variety ‘Bon Appetit’, which I grew last year with good results. Then I’m going to add to this bed some spaghetti squash and some pole beans, to make it a true Three Sisters garden. I was going to do this last year, but decided not to at the last minute. That desire for order in the garden was just too strong.
But I will fight that this year and mix it up.
The Native Americans called the inter-planting of corn, beans and squash the “Three Sisters” because of how these plants help one another. The corn provides support for the beans, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, and the squash vines shade the ground which prevents weeds and helps retain moisture in dry years.
For pole beans, I think I’ll try ‘Blue Lake Wonder’ because that’s what Frances at Faire Garden recommends.
For the spaghetti squash, I might try ‘Hi Beta Gold’. Does anyone have any other recommendations? Who is out there trying to breed the perfect spaghetti squash, anyway?
You can see from the picture above, taken earlier today, that this was a beautiful sunny day in central Indiana. I should have spent time outside weeding my paths, as you can see. Ugh. I didn't. I wanted to, but I am still in winter mode. I need to start switching to spring mode!
But as soon as I did that, we'd probably get a bunch of snow dumped on us. Patience is a virtue in the second half of winter!