Sunday 3 May 2009

Two Sisters and a Painted Lady

I was very proud of our achievements yesterday. It was a lovely day, the whole family was out in the garden bright and early and we managed to plant up the Three Sisters bed. And then I realised my mistake...

According to Carol Klein, Squash, Sweetcorn and French Beans grow in beautiful harmony so I thought we would give it a go. Garden Girl and I made perfect mounds any mole would be proud of and in went the sweetcorn plants we had started off in the greenhouse. Then we placed the Painted Lady Beans close by so they could use the sweetcorn for support. The beans also add lots of lovely nitrogen to the soil which is good for the squash and sweetcorn. The bed was looking good.

I was happy, but a little dubious about how much support the sweetcorn was going to provide for the beans. The beans were already much taller than the sweetcorn but I figured Carol Klein knows what she is talking about so after lunch we popped the squash in the spaces between the mounds and it all looked great. The squash apparently benefits from the protection provided by the beans and sweetcorn and helps keep weeds at bay. I was still worried about the sweetcorn and beans though, so I thought I would play it safe and popped a short bamboo cane in nearby. If the sweetcorn grew well the beans would use this for support when the cane ran out and if it didn't then I would just have to tie some more cane to the top to make it taller.
How proud I was before it dawned on me

I was satisfied, but there was still a little niggle that wouldn't go away, so before I started to pot up the courgettes I went to check up the Three Sisters Planting method and then I realised. I had planted runner beans, not French Beans.

Oh dear; the runner beans would be too big for the sweetcorn. They had to be moved but the bed they needed to go into wasn't ready and I wasn't sure they would survive if I repotted them. Garden Dad came to the rescue and set about digging it over with the help of Garden Girl. Then out came the hammers and nails (Garden Girl has her own workbench and loves to use her toy tools to help Garden Dad) and the two of them built an A-Frame.

Garden Girl and Garden Dad to the rescue

I have to say at this point I was very impressed with the completed A-frame. Garden Dad and Garden Girl were justified in feeling chuffed with their work.
A new home for the Painted Ladies
With the A-Frame completed we dug up the Painted Lady Runner Beans and transferred them over. Then Garden Girl helped me pop some French Borlotti Beans in the gaps left in the Three Sisters bed.

I just hope the roots didn't get damaged in all the moving around, though we won't be short of runner beans this year as our neighbour has kindly given us some of hers that she had no space for.

All's well that ends well.


  1. Wow your garden looks neat and organized. I love it! The runner beans and their trellis look fantastic. Can't wait to see how they all grow:-D

  2. It's all looking really good. Garden Girl has built first class A-Frame.

  3. Good luck with your 3 sisters beds, we have done this in the past but find that the beans "strangle" the sweetcorn and the cobs just don't develop as well. Have heard it work for some people though so good luck.