IMG_1517When the corn hit 4-6 inches in height this May, I planted my squash and my beans. I sowed my beans in the same hill as the corn, one seed per stalk of corn. For the squash, I planted 2-3 seeds in every other hill. I chose two differnt varieties of beans, a fava (Broad Windsor) and a pole bean that I can dry and store (Bingo). Most of the drying beans sold in the seed catalogs I like are bush beans and don’t necessarily climb.

After the beans started to sprout, I realized my first mistake of the season — only planting one bean seed per stalk. I should have planted 2-3 per stalk, but I didn’t order enough seed. Between the crows and the cut worms, my efforts to stretch the beans is going to short me a few plants.

As the beans progress, I have come to the realization that favas are a poor choice for a three sisters garden. They just don’t want to trellis up the corn stalks. The Bingo beans are hanging on, but between the ants and the many bean beetles, I feel certain my harvest will be exceptionally light.

IMG_1519The squash vines stretch and intermingle in the corn. Some are beginning to trellis up the corn as they clamor for sunlight. This summer I am growing three different varieties — Waltham Butternut, Galeux D’ Eysines, and Marina Di Chioggia. So far, only the butternut are producing any fruit.

adult moths (image courtesy U.Minn Extension website)

adult moths (image courtesy U.Minn Extension website)

Two Sundays ago I spent the afternoon cutting squash vine borer grubs out of the vines. Last year, I felt squeamish even thinking about picking the pasty white killers from the plants. This year, armed with the spite born from last year’s squash failure, I went at it with furious abandon.

in grub form (image courtesy UConn extension agency)

in grub form (image courtesy UConn extension agency)

Unlike many insect predators, the SVB moth is active during the day, from late May through mid July. So far this year, I’ve only seen one moth. However, you can tell you have this pest if the vine, especially where it enters the soil, bears a mushy brown hole or shows other evidence of frass (what looks to be wet sawdust). Unfortunately, once the worms are inside, little can be done except to slice the vines open, pick out the grubs, tape the vines shut, then cover them  with dirt. Although the Kentucky heat opens the door to growing a wide range of vegetables in the garden, it also creates conditions ripe for most of the pests that plague them.

All in all, I am hopeful that we may get a fair-to-decent harvest from our three sisters garden this year. As I write this, much of my corn is 8 feet tall (or taller) and just beginning to tassle. The squash, though stunted by the SVB and my efforts to cut them out, are still alive. The beans are hanging in there. But the pessimist in me knows that the season is only half over. Much can still go wrong.

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