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Live Secret, Live Happy
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Every where I have lived I have planted a big garden. Much of the time we used full sized farm equipment for cultivation, so we always had to plant our garden crops, using them same 36" row spacing as our fields. This year, I want to plant a modest garden, since I will be somewhat busy care for the +130 trees I just planted.

I want to try planting Corn, Beans, and Squash using the same techniques as the Cherokee. Trouble is Im not Cherokee and I have only heard about it. The guide at the Cherokee heritage center described planting all three plant in a single mixed field. A central mound with several corn stalks, surrounded by pole beans, shaded by the leaves of the squash plants.

Has anyone planted the three sisters using the same mixed fields as Native Americans?
 

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I did try it on a small scale a few years ago. But the squash vine borers got into the squash and killed them all. So it never really came to anything.

The main thing I remember though is that you need to let the corn get a head-start, otherwise the beans and squash will overtake it and pull it down.
 

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i am wanting to plant similar but i not sure of planting diagrams as info i find is conflicting. but ya gotta keep in mind different tribes and regions like gardeners today do things different...my 2cents anyway. one item i am using trying to glean info from is native american gardening by buffalo bird woman who was born in approx 1840...and small grain growing book by gene logsden. my goal is bulk calories and whats actually possible. most of the hopi people on youtube plant a cornfield with nothing else in it...at least the videos i seen.

buffalo bird woman was a hidasta native in the dakotas.i grew hidasta beans twice and i was not happy with them at all.it was like they were 'confused' being not really what i call a bush bean nor really a climbing pole bean.its like they just flopped all over the place. i have my own bean hats been grown in my area for a very long time i am going to use.

Gardening the Native American Way: Reminiscences of Buffalo-Bird Woman (1917)

https://www.amazon.com/Gardening-Na...83410805&sprefix=buffalo+bird+,aps,609&sr=8-4


Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers, 2nd Edition

https://www.amazon.com/Small-Scale-...gsdon+small+grains+book&qid=1583410891&sr=8-1
 

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look at this picture of buffalo bird woman garden in 1912...the squash are not in the corn.i got to read more to see her planting scheme. heres a link to ..i have not read fully to a discussion about her squash as well.i see in thread they are talking about carol deppe who is full of knowledge and real world experience.





https://www.permies.com/t/70226/native-Americans-planted-dried-summer
 

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Buffalo bird woman is a place to start, but I'm sure the SW Indians had an entirely different scheme. Museums down there say they used rock as mulch.

I tried BBW's method one season and could't see any real benefit, and it was pretty labor intensive. Now I am growing corn and dry beans in rows with squash around the perimeter.

The importance of these three crops to growing your own food is the main thing to take away from the 3 sisters. Dry beans, dry corn, and winter squash provide a pretty complete diet, are adapted most places, and are easy to harvest and store by hand methods.

There is another book, I think the name is something like "The Sustainable Garden" by Carol Deppee (sorry I'm getting old and names get away from me) In her book she explains the value of the 3 to growing your own food plus she promotes potatoes and ducks.

You are right about growing the 3 Sisters. There is a reason the Indians did it. Adding spuds to the scheme is a good idea too. I wouldn't get hung up on details because your own circumstances will be important.

Grow heirloom plants, so you can save your own seed.
 

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I think the reason the Indians were partial to growing in hills, is because they had MOOSE HORNS for tools. I wouldn't do much tilling if that was my main tool either. It's a different world if you have a rototiller or even a broadfork.

Also the wildlife shared in their crops. I have fencing to keep the pesky wabbits away, and irrigation too.
 

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it was interesting to read buffalo bird woman account of potatoes.it was not their traditional crop and was forced to grow it even though they did not eat it.she said they didnt like it and wanted traditional food. finally indian agent gave up forcing them to grow potatoes as last crop they grew was left in ground and never harvested.


carol deppe book is very good what i have read of it.i have listened to her lectures on the net and i really like her and reasons behind what she is doing and does. open seed source initiative.

so far my plans are painted mtn corn and the traditional bean grown in my area. for squash or pumpkin i am trying to use seed i already have..i have the old heirloom sweet meat....so it will probably be that. with any success i can get a harvest to secure future seed needs.

i will probably grow corn in row like guy that bred up painted mtn corn does and then add a bean to each stalk. i have areas in this new garden has stumps and i cant get them out yet even with tractor so i may just plant around them the squash that way i dont have to be trying to weedeat it all summer..hopefully. this is not the best garden area but its what it is and so i wanna plant whats suppose to be tough stuff.
 

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I did try it on a small scale a few years ago. But the squash vine borers got into the squash and killed them all. So it never really came to anything.

The main thing I remember though is that you need to let the corn get a head-start, otherwise the beans and squash will overtake it and pull it down.
On the squash grow native varieties that are known to do well in your locale. Apparently, even if healthy, some squash just will not work out right from my reading. There is also a timing element and corn is first and needs to be sturdy enough to support the beans.
The squash stays on the ground and beans are supposed to climb. The squash leaves are supposed to shade out the weeds according to what I read.
 

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look at this picture of buffalo bird woman garden in 1912...the squash are not in the corn.i got to read more to see her planting scheme. heres a link to ..i have not read fully to a discussion about her squash as well.i see in thread they are talking about carol deppe who is full of knowledge and real world experience.





https://www.permies.com/t/70226/native-Americans-planted-dried-summer
From the picture, she has got barbed around her garden also as a modern touch.
 

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Live Secret, Live Happy
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My game plant is to mark out a circle about 16ft in dia, and pound steel fence posts around the perimiter. Then roto till the area, and bring in a thick layer of mulch. Then wrap a 50 ft section of woven fence around the circle. Then since it is still early march, I will plant onion and potatoes around the outer edge.

As soon as the soil warms up to 60 F, I will add field corn in the central 4ft area, and sweet corn right next to my potatoes. Once the corn is 12" tall I will plant pole beans in the corn stalks. When the soil temp reaches 70 F, I will plant squash and mini pumpkins in the space between the central area, and the outer corn rows.

As usual, a plan is just something to modify later. I'll keep you all posted.

Soil Temperature Needed for 70% Germination:

45°F: Beets, lettuce, parsley, spinach.
50°F: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, collards, mustard, radish, Swiss chard, turnip, pea, radish, rutabaga.
55°F: Cabbage, corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes.
65°F: Cucumbers, peppers.
70°F: Beans, cantaloupe, melons, squash.
75°F: Eggplant, okra, pumpkins.
 

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As soon as the soil warms up to 60 F, I will add field corn in the central 4ft area, and sweet corn right next to my potatoes. Once the corn is 12" tall I will plant pole beans in the corn stalks.
Unless the corn packets you have say that they can be planted in cooler temperature soils (there are some varieties that can be), I'd wait until the soil gets at least 65 and more sure at 70. Also a reminder to check the days to maturity of the two corns and stagger planting if necessary to make sure they don't cross pollinate. You sure don't want starchy sweet corn!

Are you going to start your tomatoes indoors? If not, I'd wait for warmer soil for them too but that's just me. :)

Good luck with your Sisters experiment. As Brett said, the timing of corn and bean planting is the tricky bit. If the corn isn't up and sturdy enough when the beans start climbing, they're liable to pull the stalks down. I've tried to get the hang of 3 Sisters twice and just said the heck with it. :eek:

Keep us posted on your progress!
 

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.

The three sisters serve a purpose. You want beans that will climb the corn stalks. As such, the corn stalks act as a climbing trellis. The purpose of the squash is to shade the ground; stunting weed growth and slowing evaporation. Corn is a nitrogen sucker; beans are a nitrogen fixer.

Plant 5 corn seeds; plant 1 bean seed directly in front of each corn stalk, and one squash centered on but in front of the 3rd corn/bean. You can plant in either mounds or rows.

If you really want to do it like the Native Americans; bury a fish in each mound; a big fish you can cut into multiple pieces for use in different mounds; the fish will be your fertilizer.

.
 

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just tossing this out there...its native seed search...might be a resource for seeds and knowledge from them.

https://www.nativeseeds.org/


in the spirit of this style garden if a person doesnt have access to fish maybe try fish emulsions. i am not that much of a purest and will use a bit of bagged fert. one problem i might have is if fish emulsions has to much smell i might get lots more bear trouble and i already deal with enough of that kind of trouble from them. i never used the stuff so i have no idea.
 

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You have to have a much longer growing season than me to make the staggered planting work. And, Indians grew DRY beans, they couldn't can them green. The only climbing dry bean variety I have found is Good Mother Stallard. It has to be harvested one pod at a time by hand. My other bush type beans I pull whole plants, and throw them on my threshing floor and beat the snot out of them. I can grow almost any variety of dry bean, but only a few corn varieties like painted mtn and Rays Calisis will mature.

I haven't found any squash that won't grow here, butterCUP and delicatta are the sweetest I have tried. I can grow 4 different varieties a year because there are 4 different species. Different species won't cross. Grow something like spaghetti and zuchinni (both pepo species) together and the seeds you save will grow pretty weird stuff next year.

Never did a circular fence before, pro you wont have to do reinforced corners. Con, if you stretch the wire very tight it will pull your posts crooked, and it won't be much fun to use a rototiller.
 

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Unless the corn packets you have say that they can be planted in cooler temperature soils (there are some varieties that can be), I'd wait until the soil gets at least 65 and more sure at 70. Also a reminder to check the days to maturity of the two corns and stagger planting if necessary to make sure they don't cross pollinate. You sure don't want starchy sweet corn!
I grow improved golden bantam(open pollenated) sweet corn in my main garden. It isn't as sweet as the hybrids and you have to be johnny on the spot when you harvest it, it has a short best by time. My chickens will eat this when it is harvested dry, they won't eat dried hybrid sweet corn, it shrivels away to nothing.

My Indian garden is maybe a 1/4 mile away from where I grow sweet corn to prevent cross pollination. In many parts of the country you may not be able to prevent cross pollination because farmers grow so much corn.
 

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CAW!

I grow improved golden bantam(open pollenated) sweet corn in my main garden. It isn't as sweet as the hybrids and you have to be johnny on the spot when you harvest it, it has a short best by time. My chickens will eat this when it is harvested dry, they won't eat dried hybrid sweet corn, it shrivels away to nothing.

My Indian garden is maybe a 1/4 mile away from where I grow sweet corn to prevent cross pollination. In many parts of the country you may not be able to prevent cross pollination because farmers grow so much corn.
I wouldn't worry a bit about cross pollination unless planted side by side....
Corn is pollinated from wind/movement etc....
Very little if at all from bees and such pollinators....

ymmv of course :upsidedown:


and in 3...2...1.... here come the flames :eek:
 

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What's the advantage of growing them in that way?

We grow squash and beans really well here , but corn seems to get eaten by worms.
Is this a way to keep bugs out of the corn?
 

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CAW!

What's the advantage of growing them in that way?

We grow squash and beans really well here , but corn seems to get eaten by worms.
Is this a way to keep bugs out of the corn?
We found NO advantage, rather just a great mess............

ymmv of course



edit: guess not being a sustenance gardener might have caused the fail, prolly knot, butt it'll make pam and couch happy tew here
 
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