by Texas Homesteader ~
A popular garden planting strategy often attributed to the native American Indians is the 3-Sisters Garden. It’s a symbiotic planting strategy.
Three different vegetables are planted together, each one benefitting the other and themselves too for a strong crop. Come see why.
What Is A 3-Sister’s Garden?
The 3-Sisters Garden planting strategy is a garden in which three vegetables were planted together:
Squash or Pumpkin
But they were planted for very specific reasons.
Each vegetable helped the other. And by helping each other, each vegetable also benefited by growing strong and producing a crop.
Corn In A 3-Sisters Garden Planting
An important food source for the Native American Indian was corn (or maize) and it was often planted to feed the tribe.
But corn is a heavy feeder of soil nutrients. Those nutrients needed to be replaced to help guarantee a bountiful harvest.
Pole Beans Contribution to 3 Sisters Garden
So they planted pole beans next to the corn.
Beans are a legume. So the beans added nitrogen back to the soil to help nourish the corn.
In return for the favor, the corn offered a sturdy stalk to support the bean vine.
Squash In A 3-Sisters Garden
Squash was also planted as part of the 3-sisters garden.
The squash benefited from the nitrogen offered by the beans, and the dappled shade offered by the corn.
And the squash covered the ground to act as a living mulch to benefit the corn and beans.
The large leaves and cover of the squash vine shaded the soil, helping to keep weeds from growing which would steal soil nutrients needed by the crop.
And since the ground is covered, the squash also helped preserve precious moisture in the soil by slowing evaporation.
How To Plant A 3-Sisters Garden
Here’s how to plant a 3 sisters garden.
When danger of frost has passed, it’s time to plant your 3 sisters garden.
Make A Mound – Make small mounds about 4 inches tall, 2-ft diameter and about 4 feet away from each other. In the center of each mound make a small well.
Plant The Corn First – The corn should be planted first so it has a chance to grow before planting the squash & beans. Plant 4 corn seeds in a square just outside the well and about 6″ apart.
Plant Bush Beans – When the corn grows 6″ tall, plant 4 bean seeds down the side of the mound and about 3″ away from each corn plant. Then give the beans 2-3 weeks to grow before planting the squash.
Plant The Squash or Pumpkin – When the beans are growing well plant 2 squash or pumpkin – one on opposite sides of the mound and about 24″ or so from the center.
When all these vegetables are growing, the corn has a head start so it grows tall. The tall corn gives the bush beans a pole to grow upon. The beans also provide nitrogen for the hungry corn plants. And the squash or pumpkin shades the ground, moderating soil temperatures and preserving moisture for the 3 sisters garden.
I often plant a 3-sisters garden. I love the symbiotic relationship of the 3 crops as they work to benefit each other and themselves too.
It’s the most basic example of companion planting.
References: Farmer’s Almanac 3 Sisters Garden
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Planting Seeds In A Milk-Jug Greenhouse
- Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Where I Found The BEST Raised Bed!
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Rustic Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- 3 Rainwater Collection Systems We Use
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
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