Raised Bed Plan – Spinach, Sweet Corn, Beans and Pumpkin (“Three Sisters”), Autumn Spinach
This Raised Bed is planned to give 3 Batches of Vegetables during one season. The picture above shows the layout of the second batch = the lovely “Three Sisters” chaos. Sorry about the ugly Sweet Corn Illustration.. I don’t really know how to draw Corn… 

;)

First Batch: 

  • Spinach

Second Batch = Three Sisters:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Beans

Third Batch:

  • Autumn Spinach

Why these crops?
This bed is located in the “Enrichers with a twist” section in my garden. These sections are based on Beans and Peas to enrich the soil for next 3 years, all in line with the Crop Rotation Plan. That’s why Beans are the foundation of the plan for this Garden Bed. Since I add extra plants to this Bed, I need to keep up with adding manure for nutrients.

“Three Sisters” are Corn, Beans and Zucchini or Pumpkin planted together. I’ve been told that Three Sisters are an old Native American way of Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans together. When grown together – you can plant them really close to each other. Corn grows tall and offer Beans something to Climb. Beans supply support back to the Corn and also feeds Nitrogen back to the Ground. Zucchini/Pumpkin have big leaves and shallow roots. They help keeping the ground moist and prevent pests and animals to dig into the ground since they have somewhat prickly leaves. I tried this combination for the first time last year and will do it again this year (see this topic for more information and pictures: Growing Three Sisters.)

I will grow Spinach in this bed before and after growing Three Sisters. I choose Spinach simply because it’s resistant to frosty nights of early spring and late autumn, and since we eat a lot of Spinach and never can get to much. 

Location
1b = This bed is in the “Enrichers with a twist” quarter in my Crop Rotation Plan

It is one out of Several Garden Beds. See the total list of beds and Layout in my Garden Plan for Raised Beds 2017.

Time Plan for this Bed
I start my sowing for this specific Garden Bed in January, by Winter Sowing Spinach while it’s still Snow outside. The dates will depend a lot on where you live, and what average temperatures and sunny hours you have at different months. I’m in Northern Europe and this is my Plan for this Bed:

January – end:

April – end of:

  • Sow Sweet Corn indoors (I select early varieties due to quite short summers here)
  • Start harvest Spinach as soon as you can and pick Spinach continuously  

May – beginning:

  • Sow Pumpkin indoors
  • Sow Beans indoors

June – beginning:

  • If you still have Spinach left, harvest it all
  • Clear the Bed
  • Feed the bed with a little bit of Chicken Manure if needed
  • Plant Sweet Corn in the Bed

June – mid:

  • Transplant Pumpkin outdoors to the Bed
  • Transplant Beans outdoors to the Bed

August – beginning:

  • Start havesting Beans as soon as you can
  • Sow autumn Spinach indoors

August – end:

  • Harvest Sweet Corn if it’s ready

September – mid:

  • Harvest the Pumpkin
  • The Garden Bed is now empty, and ready for Third Batch. 
  • Feed the Raised Bed with Manure (I use Cow Manure Compost)
  • Move Autumn Spinach Outdoors. Plant in rows. 

October/November:

  • Cover Bed with Cold Frame or Plastic if it’s a cold autumn
  • Harvest Spinach continously. 
  • When done harvesting – Cover the Bed with Organic Material and let it rest for the Winter.

Background
My Kitchen Garden is built with a modular approach. I have a number of Raised Beds (Deep Beds) – currently 29 beds. Most of them are 120×80 centimeters. They are Deep Beds and I always cover them with Organic Material to improve soil and nutrients, and also have a No Dig Garden. More background information can be found in these posts:

Methods I use to plan each Garden Bed
I plan each bed carefully and enjoy making and developing my plans. I try to consider different angles:
– Succession Planting: I want to have at least 3 batches from each bed to maximize my harvest
– Crop Rotation: I rotate my basic crops each year to eliminate diseases. I have a 4 year Crop Rotation Plan (more about my Crop Rotation Plan here).
– Companion Planting: I want each batch to consist of Plants that thrive together to get good harvest and keep the plants healthy.
– Continuous Harvest: I want to be able to harvest from early spring to late autumn without having to preserve too much food. We prefer to eat all the vegetables as fresh as possible.

Don’t hesitate to discuss the planning of this bed with me. There is always loads of input that can help improving this further.

Update, 15th of january

It’s mid January and I’ve started my Winter Sowings. This Raised Bed has Spinach as an early crop. It’s said that it’s safer to wait with winter sowing until February where I live, but I have had good luck with the previous Winter Sowings started second week of January so I decided to start at least some of my early sowings today. The risks of sowing to early is: 
1. Seeds getting to wet with spring rains and being destroyed.
2. Sprouts starting to come and then being hit with a new freezing period and dying.

If any of this happens, I will simply start new seeds, so to me it’s worth taking the risk.

It was a very nice day for Winter Sowing, snowy and sunny:

First thing to do is to scrape of the snow. (I also did some preparing previously, more about that in this post: Preparing Raised Beds for Winter Sowing.) You don’t have to get rid of all the snow, just make sure that there is not a super thick layer:

Cover with new soil that is not frozen:

Sprinkle Seeds. I sometimes do it more structural with sowings in rows, but since I want to harvest this Spinach quite early, I’m going for a quicker solution and are just sprinkling the Seeds:

Cover with Soil, about 1-2 centimeters:

No Watering! Instead, just add a layer of snow on top. The snow will stay frozen until spring comes, and when it melts the seeds will know when it’s OK to start growing.

Now cover with a Cold Frame, Glass Frame or Plastic Frame:

I’ve also been Winter Sowing these Raised Beds today (and have about 22 Raised Beds left to start after these..)

Update, 10th of march

And Spinach is sprouting!

Update 23rd of march

It’s sprouting in almost all of my Raised Beds right now. This is sprouting spinach:

Update, 8th of april

Sprouting spinach.

Update, 3rd of may

Time to start a bunch of beans! For this Raised Bed I’ve selected this beautiful Bean variety named Yin Yang. They are soaking in water over night.

Update, 11th of may

My plan was to harvest a lot of spinach from my Raised Beds today… well. Maybe not today..

Spinach will probably recover. I will just sit back and hope for the best.

Update, 19th of may

Transplanting Corn and Pumpkin for this Raised Bed.

Update, 16th of july

Long time and no update on this Raised Bed. It’s looking good. Here are some pics from the transplant about one month ago:

Spinach that was growing in this raised bed before, and had to be cleared out to give room for Corn, Beans and Pumpkins:

Plants being transplanted:

Update, beginning of july

Update, mid august

This is what this Raised Bed looks like now in mid August:

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