Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Growing 'The Three Sisters' – part 3

At the end of May I wrote about planting out the sweetcorn, squash and climbing beans into the 'Three Sisters' bed. I promised to show you how I train the plants as they grow, it's about time I posted an update . . .

Here is part 3 of Magic Cochin's method of growing The Three Sisters . . .

(Continuing from part 2)

This photo was taken exactly four weeks after planting out, after the initial watering in no further watering has been necessary and the roots have found their way down into the rich, moist compost mound. We have had a fair amount of rain, but we've also had warmth – so far this year conditions have been good for 'The Three Sisters'. You can see how the beans are climbing up the wigwam poles, I had to tie a few of them to the sticks to help them hold tight, but now they are winding themselves upwards. The sweetcorn is growing rapidly and looks extremely healthy and strong – very promising! As you can see, squash 'Marina di Chioggia' has put out a long shoot, this needs to be trained around the outside of the mound.

One of the squash plants looks different from the others; all squash have slightly different leaf shape, texture and colour but this one has silver splashed leaves and bushier growth - suspiciously like the 'Gold Rush' courgettes! Mmmm . . . looks like I got some of the pots muddled up when I rearranged the greenhouse shelves! Oh well, it's still a cucurbita after all!

The other two squash are definitely squash! The strange warty green Marina di Chioggia and this – an un-named dark orange football sized one . . .

This is how 'The Three Sisters' look today. Five weeks after planting out the Ukrainian climbing beans 'Poletschka' are heading up to the top of the wigwam and have large bright green leaves. The sweetcorn 'Honey Bantam' is making a lush clump of shiny foliage and strong stems. The squash are starting to make long trailing shoots (I push sticks into the ground to hold these in position and head them in the right direction) the first flowers are opening and tiny embryo fruit are visible.

Part 4 will show the sweetcorn and beans in flower.


  1. They look like such healthy plants! I think it's great that there's a courgette in there too - it's the four sisters instead -even more types of nosh in one place, although I suppose the courgette wont climb/ramble like the squash might.

    Excited to see the next stage and the resulting tasty dinners. Also hoping to see the real thing at the weekend!

  2. So that's how it looks when the 3 are all together! I have a two sisters version with the 3rd growing next door-but next year I will try the magic cochin way.

  3. That is really interesting to see. I am just not a gardener Celia, but I love to watch gardening programmes and this was great, very soothing!

  4. Wow, Celia, the border looks amazing. Everything very fit and healthy.

    I was planning to do this too this year but in the end ran out of time. I must do it next year - it's stunning and the results are superb.

  5. I know we grow things to be eaten, but I get such pleasure from looking, too.
    We are having a horrid cold snap and I fear for the snow peas.They have formed pods, but we need sunshine and warmth. NOW!

  6. Our squash flowers are just popping up today after getting a drowning in the now renamed bucket garden! Can't wait to eat their fruit.


  7. what magnificent progress and what a great looking 'structure' they create as they've grown. I've enjoyed seeing the progress and will stay tuned ...


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