The Q&A Archives: Planting a 3 Sisters Garden

Question: I am interested in putting a 3 Sisters Garden (Corn, pole beans & squash) in my garden this year. The vegetable garden has been cultivated for the last 5 years with various crops such as tomatoes, beans, peppers, lettuce, celery, brussel sprouts etc. It receives full sun the entire day. I'm not worried about the location or size (I'm working with 595 sq ft)of the garden. I want to plant the beans with the corn because I know that the beans are a natural source of nitrogen for the corn, and corn can deplete the soil of nitrogen rather quickly. However I'm not sure if I plant the corn & beans from seed at the same time, or do I start the corn for 2 weeks before I plant the beans? Should I start the corn indoors then transplant it along with the pole bean seeds? If you have any information about the best way to approach this I would appreciate it.

Answer: Corn may be pregerminated indoors (wrap it in a damp paper towel, then wrap that in clear plastic and set it in a bright spot out of direct sun) and then planted directly outside to accelerate growth. (In general it is not a good idea to transplant corn.) The beans would be direct planted later when the soil is much warmer. This way the corn has a good head start over the beans and can gain some height before the beans need to climb. You may find too that the corn does better with some extra nitrogen, depending of course on the condition of your soil to start with. Good luck with your project!

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