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legumes

Vegetable Garden

Warning: Beans Don’t Like Their Roots Disturbed!

June 12, 2013
Healthy French Beans

Healthy French Beans

Have you ever heard the expression

“beans don’t like their roots disturbed”?

Well it’s true, they really don’t.

The photos accompanying this post show some dwarf French beans that were sown directly into soil in our polytunnel. This week I moved a few plants that were crowding the sweetcorn I’d sown them with (part of the Three Sisters companion planting).

Disturbed French Bean

French Bean that’s been moved

Within an hour the beans were looking poorly and several days later they still haven’t recovered. Hopefully I won’t lose them completely but it will be interesting to see if and how much the move has set them back.

French Bean that's been transplanted

French Bean that’s been transplanted

It’s not just beans that get upset. All members of the legume family can sulk if moved. Continue Reading…

Vegetable Garden

Three Sisters Companion Planting

November 27, 2011
Beans, Corn and Squash - Known as Three Sisters Companion Planting

Beans, Corn and Squash – Known as Three Sisters Companion Planting

Three sisters is a type of companion planting in the vegetable garden that the north Americans have traditionally used for over 6,000 years, both symbolically and beneficially.

Passed down through generations, the stories are that corn, beans and squash are sacred gifts from the Great Spirit. The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honour the three sister spirits.

Beans, Corn and Squash - Known as Three Sisters Companion PlantingAlthough we didn’t follow the traditional three sister planting to the letter in our own garden (I planted the seeds in blocks and not up and around each other), I can say without a doubt that we harvested bountiful crops of all three vegetables during 2010 when we experimented with this planting

Traditionally the beans are planted at the base of the corn stalks which are then used to support the growing bean stems.

The leaves from the squash shade the roots of the corn and beans and help to retain  moisture. The also suppress the weeds and their prickly stems discourage pests. Also the roots from the beans are nitrogen fixers which benefits both the corn and the squash.

This method is quite different from the commonly grown rows of vegetables used in crop rotation, as here the vegetable families have been juggled up, but it works. Their growth habits and nutritional requirements are quite different but complementary to each other.

I’d certainly recommend giving this method a try to look forward to using it again in my own garden.