Sister Act

I got up extra early yesterday to beat the heat while working on my ‘Three Sisters’ bed for this year. Out came what was left of the purple podded peas and in went a bag of compost from one of our bins. I also left the roots of the peas where they were so they could add nitrogen to the soil.

A ‘three sisters’ bed revolves around growing corn, beans and squash together in one bed. The corn supports the climbing beans and the squash provides ground cover to lower evaporation and provide a cool root run for the other plants. This planting scheme, developed by Native Americans, is eminently suited to Canberra’s hot dry summer growing conditions.

The start of the 'three sisters' bed with corn planted along with a spagetti squash.
The start of the ‘three sisters’ bed with corn planted along with a spagetti squash.

I had already tucked in a few plants of ‘Golden Bantam’ corn into the bed about a week ago. This time I added my remaining corn seedlings and a spagetti squash from our friend M. I think I have to describe my corn planting as ‘random’ blocks. They will, however, be close enough for wind pollination of the corn to occur.

The beans are growing away quite strongly in the polyhouse. I will plant them out in about a week’s time. I’ll be using my Scarlet Emperor climbing beans for this bed as the red-coloured flowers look really lovely in the garden. I always hope to seduce passing neighbours into growing veggies by showing them how good they can look.

Bean seedlings will be ready to plant out in a few days.
Bean seedlings will be ready to plant out in a few days.

I also wanted to reuse the pea stalks I pulled out, so I chopped them up roughly and put them down onto the bed.

Roughly chopped pea stems with some extra soil goes onto the bed as feed/mulch.
Roughly chopped pea stems with some extra soil goes onto the bed as feed/mulch.

I then threw some soil over them and topped the whole bed with sugarcane mulch.

The 'three sisters' bed ready for several days of hot weather.
The ‘three sisters’ bed ready for several days of forecast hot weather.

I’ll let you know how they are growing a bit further along in the season. (And a big wave to my actual three sisters as well.)

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