Companion planting Beans Squash & Corn

When I was planning our plant layout this past winter I came across the term companion planting  It is a practice that has been around for some time and is recommended for organic gardening.  This concept made sense to us.  Basically you plan out your garden with plants known to help other plants by some or all of the following: 
  • helping them grow
  • keeping harmful insects away
  • attracting beneficial insects
  • providing nutrients 
  • at times provide climbing support
I quickly wrote down what crops we were going to grow and then what worked best by what.  Then I then started laying things out and moving plants around until everything was by a plant that helped it or at least didn't harm it.  (Through this process we discovered that last year some of our plants were not in the best locations....that's how you learn).  

2013 Plan for BED #2 (using modified 3 sisters layout)
One of the most intriguing discoveries was made by my husband.   He discovered the three sisters companion planting method used originally by the Native Americans.   In order to have success with this method you need to pay attention to varieties of your plants, timing and seed spacing.
Three sisters example (taken from Old Farmer's Almanac)
The key is to plant Corn in several rows for pollination, then you plant Pole Beans and then Squash with a trailing vine.  The Corn then serves as a trellis for the Pole Beans and Squash as they grow up the plant.  They also benefit each other providing nutrients as they grow.
We decided to give it a try.

On May 20th we got to work planting Beds #2 & #3.   We started by soaking the Corn and Bush Bean seeds in water 30 minutes before planting.

Corn & Bush Beans seeds soaking
Marigolds, Basil & Squash Seedlings- Cilantro & Bean Seeds
Bed #3 (below) was to receive: Bush Beans, Cilantro and Summer Squash to add to the Onions, Carrots and Peas already growing. 

Bed #3 with Peas, Carrots & Onions growing.
My thoughtful husband found a way to speed up the seed planting process for this year.  He found some old plywood and drilled holes with the recommended Square Foot Garden Method spacing for beans which is 9 per square.  So now we have this template that we can use over and over every year to quickly plant seeds! 

Template for Bush Beans
Once the beans are all planted you just need to cover them with dirt and water! 

Holes in bed with beans ready to be covered with soil.
This is the first year that I have planted Cilantro from seed.  In the past I have just bought the plants at our local hardware store. 
Cilantro seeds ready to plant
I had to remove the Peas from the back of the bed in order to make room for the summer squash.    
Summer Squash
Winter Squash- Winter Harvest Mix seeds

The Winter Squash we started from seed was from a mix of Burpee seeds.  The seeds were a blend of: Delicata Squash, Burgess Buttercup, Vegetable Spaghetti, and Waltham Butternut.  I made sure to select 1 of each different type of seed so that we have 1 of each growing!  (However, I have no idea which seedling is which type of squash!) 

Bed #2 (below) was to receive: Corn, Winter Squash, and Pole Beans to add to the Broccoli, Cauliflower & Peas already growing. 

BED #2 Planted!
We planted the Corn and then when it reaches 4" tall you are to plant the Pole Beans and Winter Squash.  (We planted our Winter Squash early with the Corn seeds, because our seedlings were ready.  We may find this was a bad idea but we will see!) 

This completes the planting of all 4 raised beds. Now comes our favorite part: we sit back and watch everything grow!

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