Three Sisters Planting

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Vertical gardening seems tailor-made for our modern times, when yards are small and land is precious, but it also made sense hundreds of years ago. For centuries Native Americans made use of a planting method known as the three sisters. The three sisters are corn, beans and squash: tall corn is grown in the middle, beans are allowed to grow up the corn stalks and squash is planted as a groundcover at the base (figure A).

1. Creating a three sisters planting is easy: you can use a hoe to hill up some good garden soil, making the hill about 8″ or 10″ tall and about 3′ or 4′ in diameter.
2. Plant three or four corn seeds in the center of the mound (figure C), placing each seed about 1″ deep.
3. Wait until the corn spouts and gets several inches high; then plant the beans (figure D) and the squash (figure E). You will be harvesting vegetables in less than two months.

The beauty of three sisters planting is that each of the vegetables helps the others to grow. The corn provides the vertical support; the beans fix nitrogen in the soil through a process known as nitrogen fixation; and the squash provides a shady mulch and root cover for the patch.,2029,DIY_13846_4664981,00.html

Jun 19th, 2008

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