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Some grain questions.

 
Elizabeth Beadles
Posts: 5
Location: Evansville, IN
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We have a plot in our front yard that is approximately 7'x5' that I hoped to plant some amaranth and/or quinoa in. I didn't realize that amaranth was considered a weed and now I'm concerned that the two will compete too much? Haha, I really don't know much about this kind of thing.

Anyways, on the other side of the porch is another 7'x5' section that currently has some russian red kale, would it be a bad idea to plant some kind of grain there?

I've been searching and reading about different ideas, but I'm curious if anyone has experience using a grain plant like amaranth or quinoa as part of the "three sisters". I'm very new to gardening, so I just want to clarify - would a pole bean be best or could this be a good way to support half-runner beans?
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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Quinoa (if you can get it to grow and produce....it's a bit persnickety) and amaranth will both shatter after a short time mature on the stalk. This means the seeds will come loose and fall off. You are really supposed to cut the heads off just before this stage. If you have beans, squash and so on climbing all over the plants this might be a bit difficult. The original Three Sisters design used corn and pole beans, both of which sit for a long time (corn) or quite a while (beans) in their husks or pods so there isn't any hurry and traditionally all were gathered together at first frost in the fall. I would try growing them on their own and see how they behave before adding many intercrops. It might be that with beds as small as you've got you can reach in from the outside and clip off the heads and leave the rest of the stalks standing there as a trellice for the beans....
 
Elizabeth Beadles
Posts: 5
Location: Evansville, IN
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Alder Burns wrote:It might be that with beds as small as you've got you can reach in from the outside and clip off the heads and leave the rest of the stalks standing there as a trellice for the beans....


I'm thinking this may be a possibility. Possibly, for the sake of experiment, we may put a couple pole bean plants in this plot once the grains have started to shoot up.
 
dirk maes
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Location: belgium
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Quinoa is a slow starter. Sow in the greenhouse and transplant when frostfree. Amarant is a vigorous grower from seed, grows easely 1.5 meters high. It would make a better compannion than quinoa and why not try low growing peas instead of beans. Never planted a 3 sister combination exept sunchokes and weedy vines
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Quinoa, as far as I've read, is more of a cooler soil/cooler weather crop than amaranth, so I wouldn't imagine they'd do as well together as they would apart where you can give them their respective microclimates. And good suggestion from Dirk on going with peas at least with the quinoa - I don't think quinoa gets all too tall, plus they'd probably mesh better soil temp-wise. Half-runners would be my choice for beans to companion with the amaranth.

Another good three sisters combo (again, from my reading - just getting to try all this stuff out starting 2014) is sunflower/beans/squash - the seed heads are ready for harvest after frost along with the squash and beans plus they provide an excellent, sparsely foliated, 6-12ft tall pole for the beans. Sunflower is considered a grain crop, right? Sort of like growing canola without the frankenstein GMO cancer side effects. That's the combo I'm planning in my future pasture and fruit savanna to help build fertility while providing some winter staples
 
sarah lecouffe axtell
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Location: Salmon Arm, BC, Canada, 6b
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Elizabeth Beadles wrote:I'm curious if anyone has experience using a grain plant like amaranth or quinoa as part of the "three sisters"


Hey great query elizabeth. I have grown quinoa but in three sisters style with squash and beans but I will try, 2014. In my experience, quinoa grown in wetter regions of the field (Salmon Arm, BC climate, hardiness zone 6a) will reach up to 6ft tall which could be great for climbing plants. In this case however the roots on quinoa don't tend to be as developed and the plants fall over with a big gust of wind. But perhaps the beans would hold the stock in place? The plants that grow in sandy and dryer areas only reach 3ft-4ft or so in height which could be fine for climbing plants.

We plant quinoa, well right about now (april) and, harvest in sept-oct. You are suppose to harvest quinoa seed heads when the leaves have turned colours and hopefully dried up and started to fall off and to do so before the seeds fall off the stalk. We haven't been fortunate enough to allow the plants to fully mature before the fall rains so we cut the seed heads down when the leaves are still on. Then we stack them bundles or hang them from nails in the shed.

Anyways in our case I think quinoa as a three sisters could work because even if partner crops like the bean climbed all over the stems the main seed head is in the center of the plant and thus could be cut off at harvest time and the stock could be left for the other crops. Anyways its worth a try!
 
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