Saturday, 22 January 2011

Three Sisters Garden - The Original Companion Planting Method

. Corn, Beans and Squash!

Three Sister's Garden

Many people think of companion planting as a relativley new idea, but it's definatley not!

This is a First Nation's concept which goes back millenia.

It's truly heirloom gardening in it's finest form;

A beneficial co-existance and a sustainable practice,

passed down from year to year and generation to generation, just as the seeds were.

It's success and methods were passed on as to other tribes and regions in North America.

Here's how it works...

The Three Sisters is a combination of three plants:-corn (maize)-beans (pole)-squash

Each supports the growth of the other in one way or another.

Corn supports the beans physically, and squash grows around them both.

The original "design" concept was to plant it on a mound of soil, and in a circular method.

The beans naturally wind themselves up the corn stalks, which provides the support.

The beans in turn, feed the corn by providing nitrogen to the soil.


The squash, with its vines and trailing habit, winds it's way around the base of the corn and beans, hence becoming a barrier against weeds, as well as shading the soil,

which helps retain moisture.

Ingenious, really. : )

If you'd like to try planting in this method, I'd suggest first preparing the soil.

Plenty of compost & organic matter should be used to offer the seeds a healthy beginning.

The wonderful thing about a Three Sisters Garden is that it can also be grown in a container.

If you don't have enough garden space, it's a fun way to garden, and children will love it too! Make sure however, that the container will have direct sunlight for at six hours or more, and of course, that the container has good drainage.


Start by planting the corn in the middle. Let the corn grow a few inches before sowing the beans directly around it. Then, plant the squash seed along the edge.

Squash will trail, and can be trained to grow right around your container.

Keep the seeds moist and water well throughout the growing season.

You'll likely have to water every day when growing anything, especially edibles, in containers, which will dry out much quicker than if planted directly in the ground.

Try planting heirloom varieties, enjoy your harvest, save the seeds, and have fun!

Thanks for visiting and Happy Gardening!


Bernie said...

Fantastic post. Finally I got the chance to catch up with your blog and I got to read this terrific reminder of the wisdom of those gardeners from the past. Such a simple and yet such a brilliant way to grow these plants.

Wall Flower Studio said...

Bernie, thanks. I love the concept of the Three Sisters Garden.
But, I've been thinking about you and wondering how things are. Lately, I've had real difficulties with my very slow dial-up connection, so I haven't been visiting many blogs as it takes eternity to download.
I'll pop over, visit yours and try to leave a comment! Hope all is well and that you're having better weather now...
Happy New Year my friend!

Shyrlene said...

That is one of the coolest, cleverest concepts I've ever heard! Thanks for sharing!!

Wall Flower Studio said...

My pleasure, Shyrlene and thanks! I'm so pleased you like it! I was thinking that peas could be substituted for the beans, sunflowers for the corn, and zucchini for squash, if people didn't have those varieties available. Sort of a modern take on it all.
Hope you're having a good New Year! : )

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Thank you for your comment on my sustainable living project, and for your link (although if you want the link to 'count' could you please add a link to the project right here on this blog post? Otherwise, just your comment will count;-) I'm giving away a 3-sisters veggie pack in the giveaway! I have one here at home to try, as well. Not sure how well I can grow corn in a container on my deck, (it's pretty large so all 3 should fit)...but I'm going to give it a try!!

Wall Flower Studio said...

Jan, thank you! (Admittedly, especially this time of year, I need to have my hand held to get things right! ; ) The link is now up!

But I'm so happy to hear you'll give it a try!
I'm sure you'll not have any problems with that container. And, tt might make a good future post, too!
But seriously, I'd like to hear your success with it. And of course, varieties can be substituted if needed. That's the thing with gardening... Nothing is written in stone. : )
All the best to you, and for the Sustainable Living project.