Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
I have been reading on the iriquois and others who traditionally planted the three sisters (corn beans squash) in mounds six feet apart. Anybody have a method to get the benefits of companion planting while still allowing efficient mechanical tillage?
We have planted three sisters and found that as long as you can keep the ground free of weeds manually in the beginning, then soon the squash or melons will take over the ground and you won't have any more weed problems.
I would love to see pictures if anyone has them. I am trying a Three Sisters patch this year and any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated! I have planted heirloom corn, squash, and beans and fertilized with Llama manure.
I have done this in the past, although not on a scale large enough to need mechanical help. The only drawback that I found was that I planted my beans a bit too early for the corn to be large enough to support them, so I had to put up beanpoles anyway. It's very windy in my area, so the corn may have been stunted due to the wind as well (meaning this may not be a problem to anyone else). My three-sisters garden isn't so much a collection of mounds as it is a large block of corn and beans in the middle with a ring on three sides of summer and winter squash (with support for beans along the northern end of the bed where there isn't enough sun for the squash to produce properly).
I've never done a "Three Sisters" garden but I do grow green beans with my corn. A "Two Sisters" garden. I don't plant my beans until the corn is 5"-7" tall. As far mechanical tillage, I guess it would depend on the size of your mound, the size of your tiller and how close you planted everything. Seems to me there would be an awful lot of roots everywhere with all those plants.
I appreciate the farmcast comments on this topic and quickly added sunflowers to the mix, it might have been too late though. The beans are about 4" taller than the newly sprouting sunflowers - I'm hoping the flowers will catch up. I planted all heirloom varieties. I was not aware that heirloom corn grew multiple stalks until the podcast episode either. I'm glad I didn't plant more, they are filling out quickly! It looked so empty when I started...