This year I tried growing a Three Sisters Garden. I won't do it again. If the weather is bad early on the plants don't have time to mature. I tried planting the corn early. I heated the ground up with clear plastic and germinated them inside (in soil blocks). As soon as they were up they were put outside, but the corn never really grew well. The variety was supposed to get over 6' tall, which I deemed tall enough to support my corn, but it never grew more than three feet. Then when the ears started to form, earwigs took up residence in all of them and cut off the silks. Arrrggghhh!. I gave up and pulled all the corn. I've tried growing corn numerous times and it is never a great crop. I should just give my money to the local farmers and buy from them. They seem to be able to grow corn well.
Since the corn wasn't tall enough, I had to scramble and buy some bamboo poles to support the beans. I had one pole for one or two bean plants. It worked quite well.
- May 24th direct sown
- May 30th germinated
- July 23rd Kentucky Wonder snap bean harvest started
- August 26th Dried beans harvest started (both varieties)
- Mid September, Kentucky Wonder harvest almost over
- October 6th Dried beans harvest finished
The timing was fine. I probably would have started them a week earlier if I wasn't waiting for the corn to get high enough. All but two pods dried before the first frost. The Ottawa Cranberry is a slightly later bean than Trail of Tears.
- Kentucky Wonder: 3.8 lbs snap beans with four poles - maybe six plants
- Trail of Tears: 2.5 lbs dried beans
- Ottawa Cranberry: 2 lbs dried beans
I don't know how many poles or bean plants the last two had. They each had three times the area of the Kentucky Wonder beans. So the Trail of Tears is more productive. The beans are much smaller, but there were more pods. The autumn weather was very cooperative for harvesting dried beans. We had a few large rain storms, but had mostly dry sunny weather. We didn't have any of the constant drizzle of the spring that rotted out the peas I was trying to dry.
The beans weren't much bothered by insects once they got large enough. Slugs took out some seedlings. They developed rust over time, but the harvest was set on the plants by then.
The Trail of Tears was a vigerous grower. It would have grown to 10' if they had a tall enough pole. As it was they sprawled over the tops of the poles intertwining with one another. Next year maybe I should plant them in the lowest bed and let them crawl up the maple tree when they get to the top of their poles. The Ottawa Cranberry was a much more restrained plant. It did not outgrow its 6' pole. Kentucky Wonder took the middle route. It outgrew its poles, but didn't try to take over its neighbors as much.
I liked all the beans and will grow them all again next year though I've yet to taste them so might change my mind. I'm thinking I might want to add a bush dried bean to the mix. If all the beans are pole tall all the way across the 4' wide bed, none of them will get a lot of light except the front ones. It might be prudent to do a foot to a foot and a half wide section at the back of the bed and bush beans in the front. I'm not sure what variety, maybe Jacob's Cattle. It is a very historic bean in this area.