This year, for the first time, I've trialled the 'three sisters' method of growing corn.
For those who are unfamiliar with the idea it is a system of growing corn, climbing beans and either pumpkin or cucumbers (depending on your reference) together. In theory the climbing beans live up to their names by climbing up the corn, and provide additional nitrogen to the soil as legumes do which helps the corn to grow, and the pumpkin/cucumbers sprawl on the ground and act as a living mulch and retain moisture in the soil.
I planted out my corn and bean seedlings, and planted pumpkin seeds back in late November. It is now a bit of a jungle.
The beans are climbing well
In fact, some too well as they are climbing well above the height of the corn. Beans are clearly the overachieving sister. But there are beans coming along nicely, so I'm happy.
The pumpkins (in my case) are growing, but no baby pumpkins are appearing as yet.
I'm not sure that they really get enough sunlight in this system to crop well. But as I'm not a massive pumpkin fan this doesn't phase me. I do think that I have been watering these less than the corn I grew on its own last year. But bear in mind that is based on completely unreliable memory and doesn't take into account the different climatic conditions from year to year. So maybe the pumpkins have done their jobs.
But either way the corn has grown and produced delicious cobs.
I tell when they are ready by the mostly brown silks.
To be sure I then check to see if there are well formed kernels.
To be extra sure I then break a kernel with my thumbnail and look for a milky ooze, which tells me the cobs are ready.
If the ooze is clear then they need another day or two.
Then I race the cobs to the kitchen into pan of already boiling water.
Off we go...