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advice on 3 sisters

 
                              
Posts: 63
Location: North West PA, USA
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Years ago some college kids figured out that you can get a buzz if you drink a lot of water. One passed away from drinking too much water. But everyone has to decide what's right for them.


Jeff 
 
                              
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Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
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puffergas wrote:
Years ago some college kids figured out that you can get a buzz if you drink a lot of water. One passed away from drinking too much water. But everyone has to decide what's right for them.


Jeff 




reminds me of something a friend once told me.

"Everything is toxic, what varies is the dosage."
 
                                    
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We tried this for the first time last summer, and I think the spacing advice I got from some website (not this one, not a forum) put the corn way too far apart for good pollination.  We were instructed to wait to plant the beans and squash until the corn was a few inches high.  I sowed buckwheat around in the whole patch right away, and I was glad for this decision because the later planted squash took until late july to fill in.



You guys were using Painted Mountain, which I believe is a shorter corn right?  The old school corn that you might expect to see in a system like this is pretty tall, so that might be the reason for those wide spacing recommendation, those burly plants needs some room.  We did do this at Davis with shorter popcorns but a closer spacing and it worked pretty good.

My experience with corn is that if you want good pollination it's best to have at least 100 plants, in a block.  More is probably better.  There's a point at which if you're not going to devote enough space to corn it's best to just not bother.  It sounds like a lot of plants, but it really doesnt' take as much space as you think.  Actually, if you are saving your own seed, you probably want at least this many plants anyway so that your corn line doesn't get inbred.  The block doesn't have to be completely contiguous or anything, alternating rows of corn with other stuff, or making a block of three sisters mounds works, just avoid stringing the corn out lengthwise in any direction.  I know you hate straight lines, I bet some concentric circles would work just as well. Maybe with some sunflowers peeping out from the center.

I want to fart around more with 3 sisters.  I haven't done it a lot myself, but over the years I've heard such variable reports of success from "Fantastic" to "Didn't work for me" that I've developed the theory that variety selection and planting dates are critically important for it to work and that it probably takes significant trial and error to find the right ones for a given site.  You need varities that not only do well in your area but also with each other and that you like to use (either for yourself or your animals).  For example, maybe marina needs a squash that comes up a bit faster, or the one that was used would work better planted earlier.  I'd kind of like to experiment with other cucurbits as the third sister too.

I like the idea of using buckwheat under the corn.  I like it so much, I'm going to steal it. ;D

The first whites had to paddle around in canoes to stake their claims.  We drove around Wasco/Bakersfield recently visiting family....all I could do was imagine huge flocks of birds feasting among grasses and reeds, elk carefully wading through the water....I really wish I had a time machine sometimes.



Remind me to lend you my copy of The Great Central Valley sometime.  The place has a fascinating history.
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