Growing Green Beans up Corn

COCO-ONOApril 5, 2011

Ok, last question for at least a few weeks I swear. I am just a bit giddy over finding such a treasure trove of experts :)

I have 5 new raised beds 6x4 in size. Because my husband is getting a bit cranky about the work-load this year (building me the beds as well as 2 pea trellis') I had planned on growing my beans up my corn stalks (via 3 sister's method).

The plan was 2 6ft rows of corn in the middle of the bed (12 stalks), with green beans planted at each side edge (I figured 10 per row). I was going to do this in 2 beds in order to fit 40 beans and 20 corn.

After reading a bit about corn and wind pollination I am wondering if it would be a better idea to fill an entire bed with corn however, and suck it up and built trellis' for my beans in the other bed. It would still only be 4 rows of 6 but a little more likely to pollinate?

So can I still grow my beans up my corn? Or separate beds? Do those numbers look good as far as potential yield? We are a family of four and having some left-over for freezing would cause much dancing. If I do separate beds any advice on the bean spacing? 4 rows? more? should I add a bush-type and do half/half?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

planned on growing my beans up my corn stalks (via 3 sister's method).

Gets very mixed reviews. For best results? No.

if it would be a better idea to fill an entire bed with corn however, and suck it up and built trellis' for my beans in the other bed.

Much better idea. Will get you much more corn and beans both. 4 rows of six will pollinate fine but in that size bed you can easily plant more - 2x as much at least.

Same with the beans - well prepared and amended raised beds means intensive planting since you don't need paths and such. Stick a square bean tower in one end and plant 12 pole bean plants around it and do the rest of the bed in bush beans 6" on center.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:12PM
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macky77(2a)

With that small a patch of corn, I would consider hand pollinating, just to make sure.

I tried the three-sisters method one year. Never again. I didn't realize until I read up on it further. The three-sisters method is best for growing dried corn and beans only not sweet corn and snap beans. Once the squash got vining throughout the corn, it was nearly impossible to access the beans for picking. Corn roots are shallow, so trampling the soil to get the beans wasn't a hot idea. When used for the proper purposes, you just plant the grouping in widely-spaced hills and leave them be until the winter squashes have cured and everything has sufficiently dried. Pretty simple, just no good for my purposes... or yours, from the sounds of it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:56PM
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wordwiz

I would skip the corn, given the lack or room. At two ears per stalk (at best) you really are not talking about much. Around here, I can buy 40 ears of corn for about $25, less if I go to a Farmer's Market of discount produce store in the middle of summer.

All my life, I grew bush beans because that's what dad did. Last year, I tried pole beans. Only had one 10' row but I was getting at least a pint per day before the drought/heat wave hit, and the beans were not in full production. The neat thing about the beans is that you could plant two rows down the middle and then a row of bush beans on the sides. Plus, toward late summer, you can plant sugar snap peas to take the place of beans.

Use the room for the corn to plant carrots (I grew them in the ground with just enough room to walk - toe-to-heel - between them. Ditto for onions and beets. Plus have room for a row of herbs.

If you plan on growing tomatoes or peppers, you can grow lettuce or chard between the plants.

The bottom line: if you have limited space, analyze what veggies you like to eat, if they can be preserved and what it would cost you to buy them at the store or market. Use succession planting and interplanting to turn 24 sq. ft. into 144.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 6:05PM
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COCO-ONO

Thanks everyone, I will grow them in two beds.

I'm a bit attached to growing corn, but I get what you mean about the space they take up vs yield, Mike. But with 5 raised beds- plus a separate herb garden on my patio, 6x20 berry garden, and 6x6 potato patch, I feel like I have the room to waste for a silly dream of corn. In future years I'm sure I'll use that bed for other things. I'm only doing 4 tomtoes this year, for example, and I can see myself greatly increasing that.

I will do 2 rows of pole in the middle, and bush on either side like you suggested. Since my beds run E/W the long way that will work better for me then a pole on one end and bush on the other, like digdirt suggested. I'm curious to see which production I like better.

Digdirt, I was under the impression that corn needed 1 foot of space. Is that not true? Would 6 rows of 12 be better for a 4x6 space?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 6:30PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I have a problem understanding OP's plan, using corn stalks as treliss for beans.
I think that beans will grow before and much faster than corn can. Unless you plant corns much much early and your beans much later. Where do I go wrong here?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:37PM
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COCO-ONO

From reading my seed packets I would plant corn mid to early May, and not green beans until early June when all chance of frost is gone. So I was assuming the 2 week to 1 month head start would help.
I've never done it this way before, just read that native americans grew corn/beans this way.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:44PM
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ncdirtdigger(7b)

not too many of the modern varieties of corn are strong enough to hold the beans. I grow mine in separate areas of the garden for rotational purposes as well as better yields.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 9:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I was under the impression that corn needed 1 foot of space. Is that not true?

In a field that needs cultivating sure. Not in a raised bed which one assumes has been well amended. Check out the many discussions here on corn spacing. The search will pull them up for you.

You'll find that many of us routinely grow it on 6" centers, some use 4" but that is a bit too intense for me as it is difficult to do the nid-season side dressings corn requires.

I have a problem understanding OP's plan, using corn stalks as treliss for beans.
I think that beans will grow before and much faster than corn can. Unless you plant corns much much early and your beans much later. Where do I go wrong here?

You aren't wrong at all. That is the core problem with the 3 sisters gardening fad. It worked for the Indians because they were growing dried corn and dried beans as mentioned above. If you want to grow dried corn, dried beans and winter squash, fine. Otherwise it simply doesn't work.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 9:49PM
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keski(6)

The one time i did this, the beans grew like crazy and bent the corn stalks. Had a hard time pollinating the ears and getting to the beans.
Keski

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:56AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Beware planting the pole beans in the center of the bed: unless the beds are quite narrow, you'll have trouble reaching them for daily harvest without stepping into the lower crops.

Yes, I know you can reach across two feet ONE-handed, but try it with two hands, and you'll see the problem.

Plant the pole beans on the north side of the bed, or any side where they're shaded by large trees, etc.

Just remember that pole beans and peas produce for a longer period (and MUST be harvested to keep them producing) than bush beans (or peas), which tend to be harvestable all at the same time (why they're popular for the canning folks).

The corn plants in the 3 Sisters method were much more widely spaced, allowing the plants to have larger roots and thus more anchoring against the weight (and pull) of the beans.

Sue

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 2:04PM
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