I have been asked to enlarge on my findings on the Three Sister's Method as championed by Carol Klein on her Veg gardening programme and now on Gardeners' World.
I first read about this method some years ago and always wanted to try it. When we moved here I had my chance...the summer before last. I used sweetcorn, courgettes and climbing French beans. Everything grew beautifully....we had lots of courgettes...two cobs on most of the sweetcorn....and healthy looking bean plants with plenty of flowers. Then it came to harvest. No problem with the courgettes, the beans were not ready, but the sweetcorn were. But we couldn't get at them without unwinding the bean vines from the cobs. This was a real pain.....every cob we wanted was bound tightly by vines. I ended up snapping the bean stems unintentionally. We got almost no beans from this method.
When Carol Klein showed this on her Veg programme I was almost screaming at the telly. Had she tried it herself? Then I found her new book has a comment on this method )page 194). She describes the method, attributing it to the Native American Indians, but ends up the paragraph with this advice...
"but this works only if you are growing both beans and corn for drying, and can harvest by chopping the whole lot down at the end of the season"...as of course the Native Americans would too!
Now why couldn't she say that on telly. There must be thousands of people all over the UK growing a bed like this now, who will expect to use the cobs and beans fresh....the way we like to eat them.
"Welsh Girl" asked if it would work if you pinched out the bean tops. I haven't tried it so I couldn't say. If I ever do it again I'd use either short French beans, or train the beans up individual bamboo stakes. This year I was going to be growing s'corn and courgettes together and forgetting the beans. But having become interested in the controversy I am stirring up I think I'll try to do it with short beans....hoping they don't get smothered by the courgettes. I haven't enough bamboos to do the other suggestion. (Or....perhaps I might string a row of beans up through the s'corn bed. I'll give it some thought.)