Three Sisters refers to the companion planting method early Native Americans utilized when planting corn, squash and beans. Theory holds that the corn provides support for the bean vines to climb, beans fix nitrogen in the soil to feed the corn and squash leaves shade the ground to prevent weeds from spoiling the fun. Great idea, right? I even planted a head of lettuce in the mix!
Ingenious. Plants working in harmony as nature intended. Unfortunately, in my garden the results have not turned out to be so harmonious for all the girls. Beans are climbing…
However, they tend to strangle their host sister when her petite corn stalk can no longer support them. Talk about selfish and greedy!
Corn gal can’t help that she’s not as robust a grower as her sister bean. Nor can she help being too short. The bean vine continues upward but has reached the tassel-tip limit. Hmph.
It simply isn’t fair. I mean, how come my girls aren’t getting along and their ancestors did? I’m sure it isn’t anything I’m doing wrong. Like any good gardener, I follow directions, water and feed, yet this is how they behave. At least not all of them are misbehaving. Some are producing. Just take a gander at that pod of pole beans — wunderbar!
Boiled up some of those beauties last week. Roasted cobs of corn, too. Guess I’ll have to overlook the girls’ shortcomings and focus on the positive–they’re green, growing and delicious!
My sweet peas are blooming and are oh-so-gorgeous, not to mention tasty. Tall and bushy, each plant produces so many pods, I should be serving them with every meal!
Unfortunately for my family members, these beauties never make it to the house. These are my garden snacks. Freshly-plucked from the vine, sweet peas are delicious. I’d plant three beds of them, if I thought I could eat them all!
And sweet peas are easy to grow. They need little water, low nutrients–especially when planted in a base of my organic compost–and are cold tolerant. However, there is one problem when growing these plants. They grow high and heavy.
Poor babies. Despite three rows of twine run between stakes, they’re still slumping over, bending their healthy vines perilously close to the breaking point. Luckily for me, I have more twine and can solve this problem easily. I simply ran another twine from the top of each stake, end-to-end, at a height of about four feet. Whew!
It might not look beautiful, but this setup works. For added support, I placed bamboo stakes along the twine, weaving them between the levels of twine to keep my support sturdy and steady. It works!
I’ve finally found the answer for supporting my tomatoes. It’s an ingenious system known as the Florida Weave. Basically, it’s a system of stakes and twine that utilizes a weave pattern in an around the tomato plants to keep them stable, in place, and able to climb.
It’s better than staking plants, because it allows them movement and accounts for the “sprawling” effect of fuller plants. It’s better than the metal cone supports, because they become too confining for the tomato plant as it grows and the branches and fruit become tangled and pinched. So far, I love it. I used the old twine that I saved from my hale bales through the years (I saved it all because I KNEW it would come in handy one day!) and tied them end-to-end until I reached the desired length.
When I ran out of nylon twine, I went to the store and purchased garden twine made from natural fiber. I won’t do that again. One of the keys to success with this system is pulling and keeping the twine tight from stake-to-stake. I’ve only had this system in place for 10 days and the natural fibers have already stretched on me!
The nylon have not. Lesson learned. More
Sugar snaps have to be one of the easiest plants to grow in the vegetable garden. They don’t need a ton of attention, or water, or food. They aren’t prey to many bugs or diseases. Basically, this plant is your all-around go to gal in the garden. And in Florida, this is the perfect time of year to grow them because they tolerate the cooler temperatures very well.
The only thing you have to be wary of with these beauties is their support structure. They need it–and won’t be happy without it. While my tomatoes are content to sprawl across the ground when given the opportunity, my sugar snap peas are not. You can use tee-pee structures like this one, or a trellis system of sorts.
Whichever you choose, be mindful that you might have to guide your darlings onto the support structure if they can’t readily find it. For instance, these tee-pee supports I made worked well–but only for the plants directly surrounding their base. The sprouts in between tee-pees were at a loss for where to go and I ended up with huge plants along the tee-pee towers and scraggly spindly ones in between.
Another thing to remember: they will latch on to anything, including your water mister so be sure to make sure it’s “out” of their way. Other than that, enjoy these lovelies and they will produce gorgeous plump pods for you to devour–straight from the vine or in pea form, alongside those mashed potatoes you love so much.
This week, garden duty was all about vigilance. What’s eating our tomatoes? What smashed our pumpkin? What burrowed beneath our squash?
All good questions, and thankfully, we have Upper Elementary on the lookout. Many of our tomatoes are beginning to turn red and we want nothing to jeopardize their progress. Ruh-roh. Too late. Moms–close your eyes. The ick factor will scare you… More
This week the kids continued bug duty, as their pumpkins are being devoured by the day. It’s a sad sight when the kids clamor to inspect their pumpkins only to find the leaves eaten half off their plant.
Sad. Very sad. So they continued with their dispatch duty and in the process, found this little guy. More