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Corn Companion Planting?

Posted by Edymnion z7 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 15:55

Hello all,

I've got a main garden plot thats somewhat small, 8'x12' and this year I've finally gotten my hands on 40 kernels of Glass Gem Corn. Been waiting a long time for these, so I'm planning on doing the entire lot in four rows of 10 stalks each. That will work out to a little more than a foot between stalks in each row, and about a foot a little over a foot and a half between rows.

While I am going to be growing other things in containers (even going to be building a long deep potato box for my potatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc), I would like to try and reclaim some of that space in the garden plot.

First thing that springs to mind is three sisters. I know the general idea for it. Plant the corn, let grow 6-8 inches tall, then plant pole beans about 6 inches away. Once the beats are climbing the corn, plant the squash.

Few questions for those that have done this before:

1) Its generally one bean per stalk of corn, yes?
2) Are there any legitimate worries about damage to the corn stalks from the beans? I have to admit, I'm out here in kudzu country so I'm naturally suspicious about creeping vines wrapping around plants I want to live. No worries about the beans shading out the corn or anything like that?
3) The beans fix nitrogen into the soil through their roots, I've heard this. However with such a dense setup, how often (if at all) will I need to feed with the watering, and with what mix? I know corn likes all the nitrogen it can get, pumpkins like plenty of it too, but the beans don't?

So yeah, its my first time thinking about trying this, and I'm trying it with some pretty rare corn that I really don't want to screw up. Is it worth it to try this, or should I just stick to my rows of plain corn and lots of lawn fertilizer?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I have not done this, but I understand the concept. If it were me, I would plant two beans per square. I would water with compost tea regularly. You might put a little of the lawn ferilizer in the tea, but some would argue against the use of commercial fertilizer.

RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I am planning on growing bush beans with my corn, and cucumbers. never done it before, but I read bush was supposed to be a good companion plant.

RE: Corn Companion Planting?

With this being such a rare corn seed which you will hope to save for another year, I would limit what grows with it.
I'd only put in a few beans to see how it works for you. Instead of squash leaves shading your corn soil, add some straw instead when about 6" tall after the soil has sufficiently warmed up. Use mulch to keep down weeds rather than a cultivator.
When 6" tall sidedress with blood meal or diluted fish-based fertilizer and repeat when knee-high. Feed again when the corn has tassels.
If its a tall variety, you may have to mound soil around the stalks to give them support.
Corn is very shallow-rooted so if you must weed, do so gently and shallowly. Be sure your corn is getting 1" of water a week, particularly when starting to tassel. Do not skip watering.
You can try 3 Sisters another year when you have lots of your open-pollinated saved seeds. Remember, leave a corn or two on the stalks to give yourself seeds for the following year.
Good luck.

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