Three Sisters


I’ve been looking forward to these gardens since early last year when Bill and I started talking about them.

The Three Sisters are part of Native American history, story, and gardens.  They are Corn – the eldest who always stands tall and straight, Squash – who covers the ground and protects her other sisters, and Beans – whose intertwining vines weave the three together.  The three are inseparable, three parts of a whole, and should always be planted together. 

So that’s what we’re doing.

Of course, we’ve done it wrong already.

Corn is supposed to be planted first, and ideally we’d have much more space so we could get optimal pollination of the corn, but…well…I think we’ll do okay.

The squash plant, with its large leaves and sprawling personality, covers the ground and serves as mulch to protect the root systems of all three varieties of plant.  Beans provide nitrogen to the soil, and corn just loves nitrogen.  The corn’s tall, strong stalk gives the beans something to climb.

Our squash plants are far ahead because we’d started them indoors.  Ah well.

Our squash in both beds is butternut, but you could plant pumpkins or any other winter squash.  Butternut does really well for us, so that’s what we went with.

The corn is your basic golden variety – the seed packet is downstairs and I’m too lazy to go look.  We will pick ours “green” – so we can eat it on the cob, but traditionally most of the corn was left on the stalk to dry and harden, and then was harvested in Autumn.

The beans – two kinds.  The back bed has our beloved red noodle beans, which we pick and eat when they are young (though we save some seeds to plant the following year), and in the front bed we’re trying out Jacob’s Cattle Beans – very pretty drying bean – white and purple-brown spots and splotches.

I planted the corn and bean seeds together – we’ve got 16 plantings per bed – and there are 4 squash plants per bed as well.  Again, not how it’s traditionally done, but we’re just a couple of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic gardeners anyway, fumbling our way through the dirt.

Or something like that.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes!

One thought on “Three Sisters

  1. I planted beans and corn together once and let me tell you, its true they love each other! The beans grew so fast they wound around my corn plants and prevented them from opening up when the leaves matured. I spend a good hour every other day taking down bean vines from my corn plants! That’s just something you learn as a young (I was 12) gardener. Corn first, let it get up a little ways, then plant the beans and be sure to give them their own things to grab onto besides your corn!

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