The three sisters method of planting is a great idea and many people are trying it out. The idea is that you plant sweetcorn, climbing beans and a member of the squash family all in the same bed. The beans fix nitrogen into the soil, the sweetcorn provides a climbing support and the squash covers the ground keeping weeds out and moisture in. Each plant is happy, each providing for each other, and you get the maximum out of your plot of land.
The problem with three sisters planting, is that it was developed in different climates from that of the UK – like Mexico – and it does not work out so well here.. the sweetcorn takes much longer to grow here and so does not provide the support in time for the beans. In fact my beans are much taller than my sweetcorn at the moment and they are still in pots!
Soooo I have decided to go my own way and indulge in a little two sisters planting. The main reason is that I have raised too many plants – I don’t have enough space. You have to grow too many – you have to allow for losses, germination failure.. etc. The problem is I never want to get rid of a perfectly good plant!
I’ve given some away – my Dad received a tray of calabrese and a pumpkin plant today – we had had honey from the last week.. its great to share.
But what to do with the rest? Two sisters planting here we come. My experiment begins with my gherkin plants.. a member of the squash family, last year I got some good pickling cucumbers.. still eating them in fact, and want more. So I have planted two inside my bean pole line – Don’t now if I will live to regret this – they might try and climb the poles.. might not like the shade.. we shall see.
Also planted some gherkins with my sweetcorn. This is the sweetcorn that took a bashing when we had a mouse in the greenhouse.. I was left with only 14 out of the whole packet.. once these germinated, we planted them, only to lose another 5 to birds pulling them up (they also had two rows of beetroot.. must buy more netting), now they are netted, but have gaps. Hopefully the gherkins and sweetcorn will live in happy harmony. I have another load of sweetcorn to go so not the end of the world if not. So, two sisters planting – squash family and beans, and squash family and sweetcorn.
Planted out my courgettes: all twelve of them (so that will be eleven and half more than we need!, but love a glut.. and they freeze and go in casseroles etc anyway.. you have to plant more than you need..etc..). and put up bean pole wigwams for the climbing french beans. I really need to plant out my runner beans, but its so windy today, am keeping them back a bit longer.