Raised Bed 5 – Three Sisters Planting

No rain or snow yet, so I started building Raised Bed 5, another hugelkultur bed using deadwood for water retention.  Its inside dimension will be 4’x8’8″ and it is close to bed 3.  I will take a photo when I at least finish row one.

This is where I will grow the First American Three Sisters grouping of corn, beans, and squash.  It gets more sun than my other raised beds.

Rocky Mountain Corn will be planted first, as it needs a head start to keep from being overwhelmed by its sisters.  I got these seeds from rockymountaincorn.com, grown in the Montana mountains at 5000 feet.  He promises the seeds are mixed from many plants for best biodiversity.  Since I am at 7500 feet, it seemed a good idea to source from an individual who is also at high altitude.

This multicolored corn is beautiful and to be used dry instead of as sweet fresh corn.

Rocky Mountain Corn

I have a bad feeling that I will be sorting these by color like I did my M&Ms as a kid.  I eat the brown ones last…

These are very decorative plants, with yellow stripes on the leaves and multicolor silks.  I will only plant 32 max in the raised bed, so I won’t be eating them every week.  I plant more varieties of food instead of acres of each item because I enjoy a diversity of food along with knowing that monoculture causes pest plagues.  Might put a different variety of corn in another location where they won’t wind pollinate since this is my bet for a landrace dry corn for my mountain aerie.

Since dry corn can be processed with lye and turned into hominy, I may process the bulk of them this year, since I have a lot of cornmeal for another year or three.

My bean sister is a new variety for me, Blue Speckled Tepary Beans (Phaseolus acutifolius), which is a landrace variety out of the highlands of Mexico.  It was developed by Mayans and does not tolerate low desert heat.  Should work well here in the mountains of New Mexico.  It is a prolific producer of small tan and blue-gray spotted beans on half bush half runner vines.  This is a dry bean, not a green bean.   I bought my seeds from nativeseeds.org.

I did not choose my current landrace Bolita Bean for Three Sisters because they are a short bush bean that would be overwhelmed by the squash and corn.  Although it is possible to cross common beans with acutifolius, it isn’t likely.  I will separate them and Bolita will still be my main bean crop.

I bought several squash varieties, but will plant my favorite, Small Sugar Pumpkin.  These are from my heirloom saved seeds.

This pumpkin was supposed to have been given to the colonists by First Americans.  It is very sweet and a good keeper.  I will plant 4 of these, one on each corner and at the middle of the  hotter and sunnier south and west sides.  They can crawl through and cascade off the sides of the raised bed.

I tried these my first year here with little success.  This year I will start them inside, and the raised bed can provide warmer soil and a bit longer growing season.  Not to mention richer soil.

Raised Bed 5 will be a win if its full sun and wind protection give it enough sun and heat to raise pumpkins, corn, and beans in one compact space.



About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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2 Responses to Raised Bed 5 – Three Sisters Planting

  1. cobgoddess says:

    I tried growing corn and then I found out corn cross pollinates . Not far from me they have fields of GMO corn. Did you have any experiences with cross pollination? I would love to grow corn again. I had a place in the garden where I grew “the three sisters” (corn squash and beans) as an offering to the Lenni Lenapes -The Wolf Tribes who dwelled on these lands and of which I am very fond of.

    • Cobgoddess,
      My greater concern for you is whether that GMO corn is being treated with Atrazine, which most GMO corn is, and very bad endocrine disrupter.
      Corn is wind fertilized, so if you are not downwind during the critical time period, no problem. Depending on how much you want to grow, try quickly hand fertilizing to block GMO pollen. The easiest solution may be to plant corn that matures either earlier or later than the GMO corn in the fields. If you find out what they grow, you can time your own harvest and fertilization cycle around it.
      I am glad you honor your garden, the earth, and those who came before you. Let me know how it turns out.

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