Thursday, September 5, 2013

Three Sisters

The Leaning Tower of Beans
This week has been all about the three sisters. The above sister, beans, is sadly grown without its other sisters in my garden. I tried a lot to make the three sisters work. But this sister wouldn't play well with her siblings. She would grow up the corn and smoother everything in its path.

Especially this one above. The Trail of Tears beans is an aggressive grower and will trample anything in its path. It is also a great producer and I just love black beans. So I grow it every year. The other dried beans come and go, but this one is always here. I've been picking dried beans for a while now. When I have a bag I shell them in front of the TV. Today I picked a large bag of Trail of Tears and Mexican Pinto.

The next sister, corn, was indeed planted with its sibling, squash. We had raccoons in the garden, but they didn't steal one ear of corn. We got to eat it all. I had heard that raccoons don't like the prickly squash, but I hadn't seen it before. As you see the corn stalks have been chopped down. They are now in the compost. We ate 4 ears of corn every day we were home for dinner. There were lots more, but I could tell the corn was going to start to get old too fast.

So they all got picked, blanched.

And frozen. I have seven one cup bags. I'm thinking a salad of beans, corn, and squash would be good.

The butternut squash is all alone out there right now. I've got eight big squash set on the earliest planted squash. And five in the second bed that was planted later. They have powdery mildew right now. I still hope the later ones can set more. They may or may not be able to ripen at this point, but I can hope.

In other exciting news the snap peas are just starting to ripen. Yum.

And do you see my new garden helper under the bean plants in the path? My daughter is home for a year. She was out helping me pick beans. Kronos the dog was chewing on the dill plants I'd ripped up. I think my daughter was more help. At least Kronos is easy to train. Is is very biddable and smart at the same time. Last year when he visited he learned to stay on the paths the first day I tried training him. He remembered when he came back. Of course it helps that there are plants in the beds now. Last time the empty beds were just so tempting to run through.


  1. A familiar tale! When I tried the 3 Sisters, the beans were great, but the corn was pathetic and the squash was a complete washout.

  2. Lovely to have help, especially the kind that stays out of the beds! Those are really gorgeous beans. Good work on the anti-raccoon planting!

  3. I know what you mean about the Trail of Tears being aggressive. I had a bamboo stake in the row next to my beans, and the vines latched on to the bamboo before I knew it. I've been doing the limbo every time I walk down that row!

    A salad with corn, beans and squash sounds good to me. It could go different ways depending on the other seasonings. I'm looking for new ways to use our winter squash since it has been great year for them.

  4. I read somewhere, I think in William Woys Weaver's book abput heirloom vegetables, that the beans that were originally used in the three sisters plantings were half runners, meaning they were mostly bushy but each plant sent up one runner. I'm growing a bean variety this year that grows like that, the Purgatory beans do just that, they grow as bush beans but send up a single runner that's about 3 or so feet long.

  5. those beans look wonderful. I just may have to try them next year!

  6. I'm just getting into dry beans this year, your Trail of Tears look interesting. I'm growing a variety of bush long beans suppose to be "stickless" Since it's a new item to me I did not setup trellis for it to climb, BIG MISTAKE, it turns out the "stickless" long bean is a climber, what a mess!

  7. We plant a three sisters garden at my kids school and since the kids plant everything all at once (instead of the corn first, then waiting to plant beans the traditional way) we thought up a solution. We bought a big roll of rabbit fencing and created a tall fence around the corn and planted the beans on the outside. The beans climbed the fencing, went sideways and the corn never got taken down. Squash on the outside of the whole works. It worked so well!

  8. I'm growing Trail of Tears for the first time this year and I'm really impressed with the yield - it has knocked spots off the other varieties.

    Well, except the ones with spots...

  9. Do you have any difficulty drying Trail of Tears on the vine? When I tried Borlotta Solista it did not dry well, but sprouted in the pods 5' above the ground.

    I've been using a 10% milk solution spray(1 cup 1% milk in 9 cups water) against powdery mildew for the last couple years. It does not cure an infection but it does keep new foliage from getting infected so the vines make it to frost.

  10. My cucumber leaves have powdery mildew. Does that affect the plant or just look terrible? Corn looks delicious and wish I had those sugar peas! Smart dog or maybe it is you. Want to come train Coco??? Nancy

    1. Yes the powdery mildew will weaken the plant. And the dog is very smart. And such a sweetie.

  11. Congrats on the peas! They would be great this time of year.