Thursday, July 11, 2013

Three Sisters Garden

Here’s an update on my current adventure with a three sisters garden.  But first some background.  Three sisters gardening originates with Native American gardening practice.  The Indians planted three crops together, corn, beans, and squash with the idea was that these three crops would benefit from growing close to each other.

To make a three sisters garden, form a mound of dirt about eight inches high and about two-feet wide on the top.   Plant several corn (maize) seeds close together in the center of the mound.   When the corn is about six inches tall, plant several beans (climbing variety) and squash around the corn, alternating the beans and squash.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work.  The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb—thus no pole is needed.  The beans provide some nitrogen to the soil that the corn and squash use.  The squash spreads on the ground, blocking the sunlight, eliminating the weeds, and helping to retain soil moisture.  The squash leaves are also a little prickly and deter pests (some of them anyway).

Two years ago I tried a three sisters garden and the three sisters fought with each other and the experiment failed—miserably.  This time I did things differently.  I bought heritage seeds.  I didn’t use fancy hybrid varieties that simply didn’t know how to get along with each other.

Last time I planted all three sisters at the same time.  Didn’t work.  The corn has to have a head start or it becomes overwhelmed with a tangle of bean tendrils and squash vines.  This time I waited to plant squash and beans until the corn was about six inches tall.  To date all is well.  The sisters have become good buddies—so far at least.  We’ll keep you informed as the season progresses.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: It’s always fun to try something new—even when it doesn’t always work.


July 13-20.  Writing Retreat, Rhinelander.
August 3-4. Kansas City, Missouri Public TV. A Farm Story.
August 6-7, Nebraska Public TV, Lincoln, Nebraska.  A Farm Story.
August 8, Environmental Educator’s Conference, Noon. Keynote, UW-LaCrosse
August 10, 1:00 p.m., Presentation Villa Louis, Prairie du Chein.  Horse Drawn Days.
August 18, Chicago Public TV. A Farm Story.
August 24, Egg Harbor Historical Society (details to follow)
September 7, Milwaukee Public TV.  A Farm Story
September 9, Byron Historical Society, Eden Town Hall. (details to follow)
September 10, DTS Banquet talk, Deer Valley Lodge, Barneveld
September 14, Mineral Point Book Festival.


DVD Jerry Apps: A Farm Story List $16.95 The Patterson’s price only $15.00 ($20.00 shipped)
Special Bundle Offer exclusively by the Patterson:
Tamarack River Ghost & Jerry Apps: A Farm Story – List $43.90
The Patterson’s Price Only $35.00 ($43.00 shipped)

Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division St. PO Box 305
Wild Rose, WI 54984

(All items are sold by the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library. They will accept checks or cash, they’re sorry but they don’t have any way to accept credit or debit cards, checks should be made out to the Friends of Patterson Memorial Library.

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