cowpea and corn grown together

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by ppp, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    I thought I would briefly share my recent experiment of simultaneously planting corn with cow pea (legume) amongst it.

    I planted the corn in rows as usualy, (I think maybe 6 rows with around 6 plants in each row) I planted around 10 cow pea seeds amongst it.

    They both germinated at around the same time and grew at similar speeds, I probably would have prefered the cow pea to grow a little bit slower.. a couple of weeks after planting I went away for a month's holiday, during which, by all reports brisbane had plenty of rain.

    I came home, to my corn crop 70% fallen over, two of my neighbours said it was pulled down (by that vine that's growing all over your garden - it was the cowpea)..
    Thinking it was a disaster, I started chopping it all up for the compost bin. I soon discovered that every corn plant had one nice yellow cob of corn attached.

    The result.. I had a good crop of corn possibly with somewhat reduced polination??? (the top third of the cob was still little and white..???) - this could have been due to all of the rain OR the thick cover of cow pea.
    I pulled up the cowpea, and it indeed have plenty of nodules indicating the innoculant I got with the seed (from green harvest) had worked and was fixing nitrogen. Wanting to plant new things and tidy up the resulting jungle, it made good feed stock for my compost bin (or chooks would have loved it!!)... I also chopped a bit of it into the soil to try to add some nitrogen.

    So, planting cow pea with corn seems like a good idea, but I'd be home so that you can trim the cow pea when it gets out of hand!!.
     
  2. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Good experiment PPP, thanks.
    I did a similar thing with corn and snow peas a few years back and got poor results with the corn. It didn't get pulled over but the vines pulled the cobbs off the plants before they were mature. I'v heard of similar things happening with climbing beans.
    Growing dwalf beans under corn is definately a goer though :)

    I planted corn and lettuces (in a triangular spacing). The lettuces matured when the corn was a couple of feet high, protecting the soil while the corn got established. I then cut the lettuces out and replaced them with butter beans under the corn canopy. 3 crops in 1 :)

    cheers,
    IG
     
  3. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    You can grow corn with beans, other climbers and/or ground crops, but you always need to give the corn a few weeks head start to get the best results. If you plant the corn in one moon cycle then your beans etc in the next then they will grow in better harmony.

    The Amerindians grew these sort of companion planted beds (Three Sisters) for centuries with great success. Typically they had corn, pole beans and squash together growing on three levels and complimenting each other, sometimes with sunflowers either around the edge or strategically placed through the bed.

    There's some good advice and designs for them Here (Click) about halfway down the page if anyone's interested.

    Don't forget it's a US publication, so south means north for we in the southern hemisphere. :wink:

    It's also quite important to choose the right varieties of corn...you need a good strong growing variety as the article says.
     
  4. Duckpond

    Duckpond Junior Member

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    I am doing the corn and beans thing at the moment, it is working well. I planted the corn first, then when it was about 15cm high, i planted beans and peas. i have never done well with beans and peas, but these are doing ok. Not great but better than other attempts. Will have to see about cropping
     
  5. Kym & Georgie Kruse

    Kym & Georgie Kruse Junior Member

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    corn bed experiment

    Been having a bit of an experiment with similar guilds. Prior to planting, the three raised beds were planted out with soybean, which I cut and dropped when it began to flower. The beds were then immediately covered with a layer of compost followed by hay mulch and watered regularly for 2 weeks.

    I then planted corn and sunflowers in rows diagonally opposite to each other. At the same time I planted rock melon and sweet potato cuttings to take care of the ground cover and molokheya the mid story space as it grows to a nice sized shrub here. When the corn & sunflowers were 15cm or so high I planted some climbing beans next to them. Finally, I have also planted some okra seedlings in the little bit of space left open here and there. The whole beds were then mulched again with the hay from the ducks yard.

    I’ve also planted some luecaena(?) seedlings on the edges of the beds which over time will provide dappled light. We get too much sun up here! The edge of the whole area is bordered with sweet leaf, pigeon pea and kang kong. The space borders the chook and duck pens so kang kong grows up the fence and is fed to the animals as green feed. The pigeon pea will be as well when it seeds and they all seem to like sweat leaf as we do. The sweet leaf acts a pretty good living fence as well.

    All in all it’s looking very lush and growing well on all levels.

    Cheers

    Kym
     

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