I like to think of gardening as my favorite never ending learning experience. For if I’m not learning a new task or skill, I’m learning something about myself.
Two things I learned last year are these; Native Americans knew what they were doing in the garden and I love passed down traditional gardening methods that excel in my climate zone.
Let me explain.
You see, the three sisters garden is an old Native American garden technique of extreme companion planting. This method is tried and true and boy is it beautiful to watch.
So what do we companion plant you say?
Three of the best of course.
Corn = supports the beans.
Beans = add nitrogen to feed the corn.
Squash = acts as a mulch helping to retain moisture and fight weeds.
It starts out quite simple but can be arranged so differently and uniquely, for this reason I won’t go into huge detail on the design aspect as you need simply google ‘three sisters garden’ and you’ll find endless examples. This is just what I chose. After much deliberation and watching the sun rise and fall many times on different prospective locations I chose to use a circular pattern.
The steps we took in planting are as follows:
1. The corn is planted first. In a circle as I mentioned before. Make sure to plant after all danger of frost has past. A 5 gallon bucket works perfectly to trace the right size circle.
2. Once the corn is 5″ tall plant your pole beans. This is important to ensure the corn is strong enough to support the beans as well as not having to fight the beans for full sun. They should be planted rather close to ensure they can climb and at a 1:1 ratio with the corn. I’d say plant about 1-2″ away from the corn sprout.
3. One week after planting the beans go ahead and plant your squash. Plant your squash 2-3 seeds to a corner making a square around the corn/bean circle.
4. Have fun with it! You don’t have to plant the typical varieties either. I picked a few different ones so I could alternate and bring some diversity to the garden.
For instance; one circle is filled with Golden Bantam corn, Kentucky Pole beans, and Small Sugar pumpkin, while the other is Smoke Signals popping corn, Scarlet Runner beans, Black Beauty zucchini and Summer squash.
I ended up planting two three sisters gardens. One in my kitchen garden while the other is out in the crop garden. Here’s their progress as of today!
Both were knee high by the 4th of July but endured a couple cold snaps which put them through a 1-2 week lull. During that time I amended them with BioLive, bat guano, and blood meal, boy did that help a lot!
I love this garden style. You get a lot in a little amount of space and the symbiosis of these yummies producers is beautiful.
Need I say more?
Peace and Love
Have a 3 Sisters Garden? I’d love to see yours!