Planting instructions for Our Seed Collection
August 7, 2007
Beans, corn, squash and pumpkins all require a location which is sunny all day long. The ground should be loosened well below, and fertilizer or rich compost mixed in. For a new garden, dig or loosen all the soil which will be directly under the mature bean or corn plants. With squash and pumpkins, work up an area 30 inches across. Cut and remove any roots you find in that soil.
In an established garden, 1/2 those widths will be enough. Beans are usually planted an inch deep in rows, with the seeds spaced 2 inches apart. Corn is also planted about an inch deep but is spaced 4 inches apart in rows. All three of these crops must have well warmed soil. This is usually about 3-4 weeks after your last frost, and after you have had a number of hot days.
Just before planting, I strongly recommend soaking corn seed over night, and squash and pumpkins for six hours, in slightly warm water.
When the corn is about knee high, or as tall as your garden tractor can clear, fertilize along side of it, and pull soil against the plants to 'hill them up'. This buries small weeds near the plants and helps securely anchor the roots to withstand strong winds.
Corn, squash and pumpkins can also be planted in hills of 5 seeds. Make a circle 6-8 inches in diameter, for corn, and arrange seeds for winter squash and pumpkins in a 24 inch circle. Don't forget to soak seeds as described above. The corn will still need to be hilled and side dressed with fertilizer when it gets knee high, or still fits under your garden tractor. A small, narrow tractor will fit between the hills, so the plants can be taller. Squash and pumpkins are planted on a hill or mound, to promote drainage under the plants.
Space the corn according to the room you need to cultivate the paths with a hoe or garden tractor. 30 to 36 inches apart is common for both hills and rows. Corn to be harvested dry can be closer together, since you won't need to walk in the paths until it is all ready to pick.
Squash and pumpkin seed should be planted about 3/4 inch deep, and 6 to 9 inches apart on top of mounded up rows or hills. This is to prevent puddles of rain water under the plant canopy. We push each seed into the loosened dirt with a finger tip, and make sure it is out of the sight of birds. The space between the centers of the rows or hills should be about eight feet.
The leaves of all these plants should be a dark green. If they become pale, you can add more rich compost or fertilizer along side of them, and cultivate it in. The areas between the plants needs to be cultivated to keep down weeds, and allow the sun to keep the ground warm. In mid summer, they can be mulched. Winter squash and pumpkins have delicate runners, and you will not be able to work near them to cultivate or mow with machinery. Some people thin the plantings if every seed comes up in a small area, but we just add more fertilizer to that area to feed the extra plants.