Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2013 > Planting a Three Sisters Garden

Planting a Three Sisters Garden

When I was reading about companion plants, the most well known, of course, is The Three Sisters. Native Americans referred to corn, squash, and beans as The Three Sisters because they grow so well together. They were “Three Sisters” who only thrived in the company of the others. The Three Sisters garden works so well because the plants cooperate with each other rather than compete. The corn provides support for the beans to climb, the beans help anchor the corn in the wind and provides nitrogen to the nitrogen-loving corn, and the squash shades the roots and helps prevent weeds, as well as deterring critters.
 
 “In late spring, we plant the corn and beans and squash. They're not just plants--we call them the three sisters. We plant them together...They want to be together with each other, just as we…want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us we know we will never starve…”
- Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)
To plant a Three Sisters Garden:
 
Choose a spot with 6 to 8 hours of sun. Work in plenty of compost, as corn is a heavy feeder.
 
Make mounds of soil, about 18 inches across and spaced 5 to 6 feet apart. Plant 5 to 6 corn seeds in the top of each mound, spaced 6 inches apart.
 
When the corn seedlings are six inches high, plant 4 to 5 bean seeds around the corn, spaced 5 to 6 inches away. At the base of each mound, space 4 squash or pumpkin seeds.
 
As the plants grow, you’ll want to gently urge the bean vines toward the corn and train the squash vines to grown around, but not into, the corn and beans. 
 
When the corn is about three feet high, and again when the corn silks first appear, top-dress with a higher nitrogen fertilizer like composted manure or a fish emulsion/seaweed blend.
 
No matter what your heritage, when you plant a Three Sisters’ Garden, you get in touch with the ancient history of this land.
Posted: 4/29/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
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