Browsing Tag


Vegetable Garden

Sunday Snap ~ Name the Plant

July 14, 2013

This edible plant is growing in the polytunnel and loving the heat. Do you recognise it? I’m veering away slightly from the usual Sunday Snap by posting two more pictures to help with identification, both belonging to the same plant.

sweetcorn female  closeupIf you’re growing sweetcorn you’ll have seen the soft, silky tassels that develop at the end of the cobs. Every strand needs to receive pollen from the male flowers that grow on the top of the plant. The picture above is a close up of the pollen on the strands.

Sweetcorn Female Flower

Sweetcorn – female flower. Can you see the pollen that’s resting on the tassels after the plant has been shaken?

When grown outdoors, sweetcorn is usually planted in blocks and the wind will help with pollination. In a polytunnel we have to give the pollination process a hand by gently shaking the stems every day. This encourages the pollen to fall from the male flowers onto the silky female tassels which will ensure pollination takes place. If strands are missed, kernels wont develop.

male flowers on a sweetcorn plant

Male flowers on a sweetcorn plant

Growing your own sweetcorn wont provide you with cobs for the whole year as usually each plant will only develop one or two. However, once you’ve taste freshly picked sweetcorn you may never buy another frozen or canned cob again. It’s worth the wait.

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.