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Corn Companion Planting?

Posted by Edymnion z7 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 15:30

Hello all,

I'm cutting back on the variety of things I'm growing this year due to the fact my main gardening plot is going to be taken over by corn this year. In my 8'x12' plot I'm planning on having four rows of corn 10 stalks long each, so it'll work out to a little over a foot between stalks and about 18 inches between rows.

And like I said, that will take over my main garden plot (going to build some boxes for potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, etc as well as growing other things in large containers to offset that some), but I'm thinking it would be nice to have something else growing in there between the stalks to help reclaim some of that space, although with the tight quarters it can't really be something that requires me to be going in there constantly to pick (so no sneaking tomatoes or peppers in there).

Would it be worth the effort to try three sister planting in conditions that cramped?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

if only have 4 rows you don't need 18 inches between rows.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

Would it be worth the effort to try three sister planting in conditions that cramped?

No. Pull up the many previous discussions here about 3 sisters and all its problems. Minimal if any success even under ideal circumstances. Contemporary varieties just don't lend themselves to it like the old heirlooms did.

Dave


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I've grown pole beans all along the south side of corn, with very good success. Just have to make sure to time the planting so the beans don't want more height than the corn can give -- but maybe that's one of the problems with three sisters (or in this case, two) that folks have uncovered.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

It is better to not put anything in with them. They are heavy feeders/drinkers!
I plant my corn in beds 4 rows across, less than 4 feet across though, and 10 inches apart. 57 plants in a 48 foot long row and 228 plants per bed. I have done 288 plants per bed but I am reducing it. I usually put in 2 week old seedlings.
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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I've planted butternut squash on the edge of corn and let it grow into the corn. Worked well.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I thin the corn plants at the ends of the rows to 18 inches, and start pole beans around their bases when the corn is more than a foot tall. The beans eventually run over the old plants in a tangle, but they make good late-season pickings for little effort.

I also have grown pumpkins on the sunniest side of the corn patch, and just let 'em run. Except for having to tiptoe among pumpkin vines to pick the corn, that plan can work well, too.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I want to plant 2 different types of corn; both Hybrid SE (Precocious 75 days and Delectable 90 days). Can they both be planted close to each other?


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

If I'm remembering correctly, the idea of planting beans with the corn is that because the corn is a heavy feeder and the beans are nitrogen fixing at their roots, that the beans help feed the corn.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

Beans do not provide nitrogen to anything but themselves. The plants take up all the nitrogen fixed in the nodules themselves, and there is nothing left over to leach into the soil. The reason it's good to plant legumes as a green manure is that after the plants have taken up the nitrogen fixed by the bacteria, you turn them into the soil. THEN the legumes provide nitrogen to the soil - when they decompose.

The 'three sisters' system of planting was not done by native Americans because the three are good 'companion plants.' It was done because native Americans did not have metal tools, so creating a garden to plant in involved slash and burn removal of trees and shrubs. Think about what it would take for you to open a garden plot in the middle of the woods with stone axes. They planted the three crops near each other because they didn't have a lot of space - it's that simple.

As said above, corn is a heavy feeder, and anything you plant nearby competes with them for water and nutrients like weeds. 'Three Sisters' planting was a good idea for 1960s hippies who wanted to homestead and read books about living in the land. 99.9% of them ended up back in the city within a year or two.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

the idea of planting beans with the corn is that because the corn is a heavy feeder and the beans are nitrogen fixing at their roots, that the beans help feed the corn.

Yet another myth that will never die.

Legumes can only return N to the soil or "feed" other plants long after the plants and their nodular roots are left in the soil to decompose. Even then the return is minimal.

Bottom line there is nothing to be gained from interplanting anything with corn and potentially, much to be lost. Many have proven it to themselves over the years but some will never believe without trying it themselves. So for those who wish to - Good luck.

Dave


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

Thats about what I thought from reading what it was supposed to do. If anything it sounded like the beans just made for a zero sum game at the end of the season (if that).

I think I'll stick to straight corn, maybe some mini-pumpkins since they like the same constant water and nitrogen fertilizers.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

It's a nice idea...tall corn, beans climb corn, squash provides a living mulch.

In practice you get beans growing quicker than the corn, corn wanting to feed like crazy, over fertilizing of corn causing beans to grow even faster and set less pods because it's concentrating on vegetative growth, and a mass of squash competing with root area + nutrients with the corn while inviting mildew...not to mention actually getting in the mass of greenery to pick the squash before it gets hidden and huge.

I've seen some decent plantings of blocks of corn with squash and/or bush beans surrounding the outside of corn blocks, though that's really how 3-sisters is supposed to work.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

Edyminion, I'm not an expert and I have a small garden compared to most everyone here but here's my $0.02 on Three Sisters... don't bother. My kids wanted to try it year before last. We prepared the beds, staggered the planting, etc. What happened: the squash all died and the beans climbed the corn like crazy but did not bloom. However, the corn did great. Up until the freak windstorm knocked down a bunch of it, that is. We picked a lot of corn but that's all. Luckily, we had enough time to plant a late bean crop. We'll never do Three Sisters again.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

It's a MYTH?!?
Well, you learn something new . . .

I wonder if this part is a myth too -- that the squash protects the corn from racoons because they don't like the feel of the leaves on their paws. In that case, I wonder if a ring of squash around the corn, as mentioned above, may still protect it.

Kind of gives you a window on why the Natives put up with the white settlers, who brought them metal tools in trade for corn.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 19:56

Surely you can plant a thick carpet of mache, also known as corn salad, for fall harvest.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

If the raccoons have access to the corn they will climb over anything to get to it. And then eat all the squash for dessert.

Dave


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

if you want prevent coon damage to corn you need a corn cage
or cage similar to the one in link

Here is a link that might be useful: plant pest cage


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

I've got the best raccoon protection known to man. The neighbor has two American Pitts for pets. Raccoons don't come close with them around.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

2 years ago I tried growing corn and beans together. The beans did what they were suppose to do, but the corn didn't do well. The beans strangled the corn. Last summer, I grew corn/pumpkin side by side and did well.Beans were grown in a different area. This summer I'll do same.


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

this diagram was posted on another forum I thought it might be useful
three sister using sweet corn bush beans and bush summer squash

This post was edited by thegreatcob on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 14:58


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RE: Corn Companion Planting?

  • Posted by memo Zone 4B Nebraska (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 18:05

In our fields we plant soy beans the first year and follow the next year with corn planted every 6". The soy beans set nitrogen in the soil. We don't need nearly the amount of commercial fertilizer that most farms need because of the rotation.

So in our home garden we plant and rotate three areas. Area 1. gets a crop of clover. Area 2. gets a crop of squash, pumpkin, melons or whatever vines we decide to plant that year. Area 3. gets a crop of corn, planted at 8" apart. We don't need walking rows between because we pick from one side, removing the stalks as we go.
The following year in area 1. The clover gets turned in to the soil and the corn is planted over it. Area 2. gets a crop of clover and area 3. gets planted to a vine crop. We shift each year. The clover is nitrogen fixing so the corn follows it. Planting a vine crop to one side of the corn ensures the vines plenty of room to run and those crops usually finish just after the corn crop. When the vines are planted to the side of just the clover we spend time directing those vines out to the side of the garden and just let them develop into the grass areas rather than into the clover. Last year we experimented with growing two successive crops of corn to see if we could grow that much in a season and to see how the nitro from the clover held up. We did get corn on the second planting but the stalks were not as tall and ears were not as big and we were scrambling to pick the last of the corn the day that our first hard freeze was to occur. I may try soy beans this coming season instead of clover and repeat the experiment the following year. We have a five month growing season for most things in my area.


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