Sunday, July 11, 2010

Three Sisters: 2010

I'm taking another shot at the Three Sisters gardening method this year. I took a stab at it last year with little knowledge and had limited success. This year I tried to do it a bit more properly. I laid out a few beds, raking them into raised beds as Three Sisters should be planted in mounds. I seeded runner beans this year, instead of bush beans like last year, and I seeded them after the corn had started out of the ground. And instead of seeding squash, my folks picked up two kinds of sets, although I should have seeded as well, as some mounds got no cover plants at all. This isn't a big loss as two of these mounds didn't germinate anything very well.

But, despite some setback due to late frost again this year, I am quite happy with the progress on 4 or 5 of the mounds. 3 of them are looking quite lush and I'm hopeful of a decent harvest. I think the worm composting is helping as the mounds have gotten a few good dowsings of compost tea and 3 mounds got the remnants of compost that went into making the tea.

I took some pictures of the rest of the garden as well, so I'll try to get them up soon. We're quite happy with the way it is coming this year so I am looking forward to sharing the pictures.

Until then, peace and comfort to all.


Liz said...

That looks pretty good. Doesn't look like you have a fence. Do you have problems with critters? My garden has become quite a gathering place for rabbits, raccoons and deer.

Jerry said...

The garden is partially fenced, enough to keep the cattle out. Nothing else really comes around much as there is not a lot of tree cover. I've actually been building a new fence to keep the cattle further away so that I can remove some of the old perimeter fencing.

We do have to be careful of the chickens though. They are right beside the garden and if they got out I think they'd make short work of it. One hen who flies out has feasted on a good amount of romaine lettuce all by herself.

Teresa said...

I'd never heard of this method before. Glad it seems to be working for you. My garden is getting big, and I'm anxious for those fresh veggies.

Anna said...

I'll be interested to see how this garden grows. I tried 3 sisters a couple of years ago, with miserable results. Since then, I've been doing a lot of reading on it, and have come to a few conclusions:

*The mound isn't essential. What it was meant do do was concentrate fertility, so if you live in a dry place, you'd do just as well digging a massive amount of compost or manure into a small space. (Mounds of compost drying out is a big reason my first try failed.)

*Our current incarnation of corn, beans, and squash aren't all that well suited to the method. You'll do best if you're growing field corn, runner beans, and some sort of non-bush winter squash. Even then, you may discover, like I did, that it's too much of a pain the butt to get in there and pick the beans, and that you'd rather grow them separately.

*The reasoning that beans add fertility to the soil for the corn doesn't really work in a single season. Nitrogen-fixers keep nearly all of the nitrogen for themselves the first summer, although they do add nitrogen to the soil in the long run when they rot into the ground and release that nitrogen.) So, be sure to feed those mounds well (which it sounds like you did.) Native Americans kept growing the same three plants in the same mounds with no rotation primarily because they were working with hand tools and tilling up new mound areas was hard, hard work. They also burned off all of the surrounding weedings on a pile on top of the mound for fertility.

Sorry to be so long-winded. I've been very interested in 3 sisters for a while (and clearly should have made another post about it on my blog rather than running off at the mouth in your comments. :-) )

linda said...

Jerry, your work looks good! We started the three sisters as well but somebody (not me:) forgot to plant the squash. LOL! So we have two sisters, long beans and Bloody Butcher corn going well. We didn't mound and also had some corn seeds that didn't germinate. Its still a pleasure to watch as it progresses despite all our mistakes along the way. Next year we won't forget the squash and I'm keeping Annas information in mind for the future as well.

Jerry said...

Thanks for all the responses and Anna please don`t worry about expounding that way here! I enjoy it and I`m sure others do as well.

MoonRaven said...

Wow. That looks great. Some day I will have to try the 'Three Sisters'. This year I'm just happy that I got the kale to grow--really grow instead of staying the same tiny size for months like it did last year.

I'll be interested in any progress reports.