Three out of four ain’t bad

Now, if I had stuck to a ‘three sisters‘ planting, as is normal, I would have been able to quote Meatloaf and tell you that ‘two out of three ain’t bad‘, but since I upped the ante, I’ve had to paraphrase.

The four sisters crop

The four sisters crop

You may recall that I tried a ‘four sisters‘ planting this year, adding sunflowers to the traditional mix of beans, corn and squash. The sunflowers were self-seeded from the bird feed, so were something of a bonus, but have turned out to be remarkably prolific. We have managed quite a few squashes (not bad for about four square metres), lots of runner beans – both fresh pods and seeds for drying – but once more the corn has been a disappointment. Despite growing flint corn rather than sweetcorn, and having a really sunny summer, few of the cobs are full.

So, what do I conclude? Well, corn is too unreliable to put much effort into, but I like the combination of beans and squashes, especially since the latter are so good at suppressing weeds. The beans make use of vertical space and so the squashes don’t seem to have to be planted at a reduced density compared to planting them on their own. I’m not convinced that the sunflowers were a particularly good variety for my needs, but they were easy to grow and successful and they were an accident this year, andI can be more selective in the future

Next year my three sisters will comprise squash and courgettes, beans (var. The Czar, again) and sunflowers (probably naked ones, such as var. Lady Godiva)

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6 Comments

  1. I think the corn must not like the UK climate. My problem here in the southern US is that the critters like the corn too much–and are willing to eat it just a little less ripe than I am!

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  2. You win some, you lose some! I’ve read somewhere that Amaranth is a good fourth sister. Good grain crop, really red flowers, not sure if it would be climate appropriate though. 🙂

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  3. Ann

     /  October 18, 2013

    If you’ve got the space, then Chenopodium Gigantum might provide a good alternative to the traditional willow wigwam bean climbing frame. First it’ll give you some salad leaves, then “spinach” and later the immature seed heads can be made into huazontle’s, yum. Had loads of those this year, with home made salsa. Let me know if you want a plant or two next year!

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    • I’d love to try this… yes please to a couple of plants. I really like things that give me more than one crop – like the fresh beans and the drying beans from ‘The Czar’. so the Chenopodium sounds brilliant.

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