The three sisters garden is a traditional native American method of growing corn, pole beans and squash together. The individual crops benefit each other in multiple ways, make beneficial use of growing space, and together they provided a healthy, balanced diet.
The pole beans climb the corn, the corn utilizes the nitrogen the beans fix in the soil and the prickly squash leaves keep critters and pests away and act as a living mulch--keeping the soil cool and moist. Nutritionally, protein is supplied by the beans, while carbs & fiber are provided by corn; squash supplies important vitamins (including C) and antioxidants.
I have always wanted to try the three sisters method, and am using a modified version this year--why not grow some corn and beans amidst the bed of squash?
|Soaking the beans before planting helps ensure moisture |
and speeds germination. Left: peas. Right: Hidatsa Shield Figure beans.
|Foreground: squash bed with three sisters mounds.|
Background: pole bean trellises.
As for the corn varieties we have Bloody Butcher and Bear Island Flint corn. Bloody Butcher can be harvest young, for sweet corn, or used at maturity for decorative purposes, meal or flour, and has excellent drought tolerance. Alternative corn varieties!! But we have sweet corn coming up too!!
|A simple diagram of a three sisters mound.|
[Photo from: kidsgardening.org]
|What one mound might look like into maturity.|