Maureen Atsali wrote:I do 3 sisters, but I have never tried to line up varieties for a simultaneous harvest. I usually go in and harvest beans first, then maize, and lastly squash. And we eat leaves from the squash all season long, as one of our favorite green veggies. So we walk through the plot all the time. Even if we accidentally step on a vine here and there it doesn't seem to deter or harm the squash, which tend to put down extra roots along the way anyway.
I couldn't leave my beans out. I also seem to have the varieties that break open and drop their seeds if left too long. And mildew and insects also become a problem when left on the field.
Wes Hunter wrote:
Brandon Greer wrote:As far as yield goes, how did Turkey Craw compare to Genuine Cornfield? I'm reading that Turkey Craw is 80 - 100 days. I'm guessing that the low end is for greens and the high end for dry? Did you leave any for dry beans and if so about how long did they take to reach that point?
The Turkey Craw seemed a lot more productive on a yield-per-foot-of-row basis, but it's kind of hard to say because I didn't keep records, and the fact that I'm a really inadequate weeder could disproportionately affect yields. That said, the Genuine Cornfield were planted right next to the Turkey Craw, so direct environmental factors will have been largely the same. The Turkey Craw at least left me with the impression that they were really teeming with pods, whereas I can't say the same for any of the others. I'll say, too, that I have noticed significant differences in plant growth in a quite small space in our garden (different soil types), so that could be a factor, though if it was an obvious one last year I didn't make a note of it. In short, apparently: gee I don't really know.
We ate some as green beans, but most were left to dry. I don't recall exactly how long it took, except that the Turkey Craw seemed to mature over a considerably longer period, and even after harvesting dry beans off some vines I was harvesting green beans off others. There were some Genuine Cornfield that matured relatively early, but most seemed to hang on the vine forever before they finally dried.
Wes Hunter wrote:I've never had too much trouble with dry pods popping open (though it does happen--dependent on variety, I think), but I have found that dry pods that get rained on are quite likely to discolor and/or develop mold. And in my experience the beans will mature over the course of a few weeks, anyway. The same will be true of the squash, and the corn for that matter, so it's not as though you'll have one or two "harvest days" and then be done. Point being, I think you're just going to have to deal with getting in there and stepping carefully and harvesting things as they're ready.
Turkey Craw is a good cornfield bean too, for what it's worth. I've found them to be very productive. We also grew Genuine Cornfield, Cherokee Cornfield, and Good Mother Stallard last year; all did well.
Alder Burns wrote:I have had success with three sisters gardens, and derivations on them, in Georgia for years. The main point to bear in mind is that the goal was durable, storable produce for winter use and beyond....in other words dry corn, dry beans, and hard-shelled winter squash. Yes, it grows up into an impenetrable jungle....that's the point.....the space is fully occupied, "stacked and packed", giving weeds minimal opportunity to get a foothold. You go in and harvest everything at once after first frost kills all the green growth down. The corn must be planted first, and I would say it should be a foot or two tall, before adding the others....but this is in the South with plenty of growing season....perhaps it needs to be closer together in time further north. The danger is the bean vines, or even the squash, overwhelming the corn before it gets a chance to grow up. Even later on, vigorous bean vines can break down the corn. So you need good old heirlooms with stout tall stalks....things like "Hickory King" or "Sweet Bay". Wimpy 5 foot sweet corns or short hybrid popcorns and such like won't do. Layout helps too. Don't plant the corn in rows. Plant it in "hills"....that is, groups of 3-4 stalks together, then leave 3-4 feet of space either way to the next hill. The bean vines tangle the stalks together and make a strong support. If your beans look extra vigorous and likely to break the corn down, tying the cornstalks together near the top, sort of like a tipi, adds extra strength.
When you have it down, it's a fun design to play with, changing spacing, planting times, and adding or substituting other things.... Largely it's a matter of architecture, and similar plants can be added or exchanged as desired. Sunflowers, especially the tall ones, might have been used traditonally, and fit in very well, making a stronger support for beans than corn does. Vining cowpeas do as well, or even better (especially far South) than ordinary dry pole beans....they seem more tolerant of rain and humidity as they are maturing. The ground cover can be just about any cucurbit, although most of the others (melons, etc.) need to be harvested fresh which means thrashing in there to pick them. So plant them along the edges of the patch. Sweet potatoes are another possibility....... The Central American version of this idea is called milpa, and just about everything went into it....tomatoes, peppers, and such, and tropical perennials like banana and papaya and sugar cane, which eventually filled up the space while the annuals went on to a new plot......
Douglas Crouch wrote:Here is my article on the principle of diversity which covers guilds in the Introduction to Permaculture book from Mollison.
I like to mix and match based on function and apply a pattern. i rely on what i can easily propagate or have laying around my nursery in the moment.
tree planting is usually done during fall or late winter. depends as always on your climate and your desires around summer management, irrigation, and if you are planting bare root or not. You can get nitrogen fixers going on the outside of guild and i put everything in at once unless i am planting into tough rhizominous grasses in which i sheet mulch heavily for a period, usually 6 months, then drop the plants in. no fun weeding.