Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Growing 'The Three Sisters' – part 2

All of last years compost has been transferred to the 'Three Sisters' mound, the recent rain has given it a good soaking and the rich mix is warm and ready for planting.

The 'Three Sisters' – corn, squash and climbing beans – have been grown in pots and now it is warm enough for them to be planted out.

So it's time for part 2 of Magic Cochin's method of growing The Three Sisters . . .

(Continuing from part 1)

The climbing beans are supposed to be supported by the stems of the corn, but I think that this is only feasible if the corn is the sort that grows 'as high as an elephant's eye', so my beans will have a teepee frame of three tall willow poles with some extra smaller sticks for supports. The bushy plants on the edge of the mound are self-seeded clumps of lemon balm and oregano, both of which have flowers which will attract bees and other pollinating insects, so they have been allowed to stay!

Sweetcorn: Germination was excellent this year, so as I have masses of corn plants I'm planting more than in previous years. Sweetcorn is wind pollinated and needs to grow in a block in the centre of the mound, I've planted 17 plants of 'Honey Bantam' spaced about 20cm apart.

I had to be sensible and choose just one plant of the three varieties of squash – 'Winter Festival', 'Marina di Chioggia' and an un-named dark orange variety. This year all have been grown from home-saved seed, and as squash freely cross-pollinate these may not be like the parent plants. So it will be a case of wait and see! The three plants are planted between the block of sweetcorn and the edge of the mound and inbetween the bean poles.

These have been grown from home saved seed of the Ukrainian climbing beans 'Poletschka' which did so well in the garden last year. I've planted 2 plants either side of the main poles and a plant next to each supporting stick – that's 12 plants altogether. These will be encouraged to climb up to the apex of the teepee, as they start to grow they may need tying in with string to point them in the right direction.

Part 3 will show how to train the beans and squash shoots as they grow


  1. I'm doing two sisters in my garden. I am waiting until the corn is at least a foot tall before I plant the beans next to them, otherwise they would overwhelm the corn and grow much faster.

  2. I'm following this with such interest. Since our visit to Barnsdale, my vegetable plot has been planned out and now I'm schemming about next year's planting!

  3. The makings of so many delicious dinners all in one spot. I'm excited to see how they climb and lean against eachother.

  4. I'm also watching with interest. Love the willow teepees (great idea).

  5. I like the three sisters notion - have you a four maiden aunts section or other family groups in your garden?

  6. I'm watching this three sisters project with great interest and thoroughly enjoying your blog, which is going from strength to strength.

  7. I am intrigued to see how this works out! Thanks for the elderflower cake tip - sounds yummy. I may well give it a try next time I've been foraging.

  8. Matron - good luck with your 'sisters'

    Gina - start planting this autumn for some early crops!

    Silverpebble - it's always a slow start, but soon we'll have some action!

    TLC - making a good structure for the beans is part of the fun!

    GBVC - 'The Three Sisters' is an ancient tradition, but I like your idea of other family groups. My group of 4 wigwams of heritage peas could definitely be 'Maiden Aunts' :-)

    Hi Andy - I'm pleased you're enjoying PPPs. I'll have to do a "Three Sisters" print.

    Hi Organic Viking - welcome to PPPs, I'm enjoying your blog.



I love reading all the comments (except for spam and advertising which I will delete) and I'll reply here in the comments under each blog post, it may take a few days if I'm busy.
You don't need to have a blog to leave a comment, you can select the name/URL option and fill in just your name instead of a blog link.