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, 1 September 2012

The Three Sisters 2012 – an unexpected bonus veg

If you're a long time follower of PPPs you will know that each year I grow 'the three sisters' – squash, sweetcorn and climbing beans planted together on a circular mound of compost.

I tweak the arrangement each year, I've learnt that it's better to have a central tall bean support with the corn in blocks around it and just 4 squash plants in between, as the squash grow I spiral the vines around the mound.

I would normally make the mound before Easter and plant it up in May, but this year was so wet and so so cold and horrible that beans were rotting in the ground and the courgettes were looking sulky and sad so I delayed planting until late June. You can see pictures of the mound making and planting here on Pinterest.


Well, here we are in September and already a few days ago in the last week of August some parts of the Midlands and West Country had the first frosts of the Autumn! So, although the three sisters look fine and lusty, I'm worried that the frosts will come before I get any beans or squash to harvest; my fingers and toes are crossed for a lovely late season Indian Summer.

 Beans
The beautiful scarlet flowers of Salford Black Runner Beans
and the white flowered Lazy Housewife climbing French beans






 Sweetcorn
The variety is Sweet Nugget and it's looking good –
we'll soon be harvesting the cobs


 Squash
I planted two varieties: Waltham Butternut and this
is the largest of the Galeux d'Eysines – still very small
so I doubt that we'll have giant orange pumpkins for Hallowe'en!


To encourage growth to the fruit rather than the vines of the squash, I decided to cut back the growing tips. The squash plants are now putting out side shoots and they are threatening to take over the garden!


I remembered reading that the tender shoots of squash plants are edible, so I checked in my well-thumbed copy of 'Oriental Vegetables' by Joy Larkcom – sure enough, the shoot tips and young leaves can be used as 'greens'.


I cut a generous bunch of squash shoots to cook for supper – you can substitute them for any recipe that uses pak choi or similar tender green leafy vegetables. We ate ours in a pork and vegetable stir-fry with rice, I added the squash shoots last and after a stir around, covered and steamed until they were wilted and tender but the stalks still crunchy. If you plan to use chop-sticks, cut them up before cooking!


A delicious vegetable! Don't waste them!

Celia
x

29 comments:

  1. That looks marvellous. The weather has a lot to answer for this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 3 sisters have cheered up one very glum veg grower!

      Delete
  2. My beans were all eaten - absolutely nothing this year :(

    Least my tomatoes and chillis are ripening nicely.

    What a growing season :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My peas were eaten by pigeons and beans rotted in the soil before germinating ... what a growing season indeed!

      Delete
  3. Very impressive "three sisters"!I live in the southwest USA where the
    Indian tribes origonally planted the three sisters- you can also fry the squash blossoms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I add chopped squash flowers to scrambled egg as it cooks - lovely!

      Delete
  4. Your three sisters look lovely! I shall have to try harvesting the shoots of our butternut squash plants. Like you, they are nearly taking over the whole plot! I read somewhere that you should limit the number of fruits on each plant to 3 or 4, so very reluctantly I picked off the smaller ones (it seemed such a shame!) I'm not sure whether I have done the right thing, as this is the first year I have grown butternut squash. Fingers crossed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope your Butternuts are doing well... I hope you ate those little fruits ;-)

      Delete
  5. "Eats shoots and leaves" Now I have learned of another shoot worth eating- thank you Celia

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great use of the squash tips...my pumpkins look about the same size as yours so I might try these 'baby greens' as well. It's really been an sad year for veg gardening hasn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Discovering the joy of squash tips in a stir fry or noodle soup, has cheered me up as little.

      Delete
  7. Well you learn something new everyday! This is my first year of veg growing and I have been very successful......at feeding the slug population that camp out in my garden! Ada :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stick at it... this year has been really rubbish for growing veg. Encourage wildlife to your garden if you can... we don't have a problem with slugs.

      Delete
  8. Our beans are ok,the sweetcorn is late and I don't think will make anything but the squashes have been worst affected by the dreadful wet weather. There'll be no pumpkins for Halloween this year unless they come from the shops!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Celia, it's wonderful seeing these views of your garden at the end of August. I love the visual, but think that the dinner table results were even more impressive.

    Will you have any sort of winter garden?

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a word... no. Sowing crops to stand the winter didn't happen this year - we really did have a truly horrible year, thank goodness the Olympics cheered us up and the sun came out in the end!

      Delete
  10. I'm glad those Salford black beans germinated for you this year, it was great that I could return the favour. That is what seed swapping is all about!
    I didn't know about eating squash shoots as a green veg. Aren't they a bit hairy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed the Salford Black Beans will mature before the frosts (and I still have some of your beans for next year).
      After cooking the hairs on the young squash shoots aren't noticeable - give it a try.

      Delete
  11. I loved this post, it reminded me of home, being from the US. I adore living in England and there is no place I'd rather be, but I do miss the wonderful sweet corn my Aunt and Uncle used to grow in their vegetable garden. I hope you have a good harvest. When you eat that wonderful home-grown roasting ear, think of me!
    Debs : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roast corn... I haven't done that, we usually boil ours. I can't wait to try it... any day now...

      Delete
  12. Such a pretty post. Thanks for sharing.

    Jody

    ReplyDelete
  13. I really enjoyed this post, Celia. I love people who get excited about vegetables and who can write so poetically about them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear... yes I do get excited about vegetables :-/

      Delete
  14. Great post; i like the idea of growing those 3 together, has lovely height and interest, and I had no idea that sqaush greens were edible. Can you eat courgette greens? We've certainly no shortage of those just now.

    ReplyDelete

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.
And, I've turned off that annoying word verification malarkey, to make it easy for you :-)