Three Sisters in the Maynards Garden

We’re thrilled to be implementing the traditional “Three Sisters” gardening technique in our very own Maynards Organic Garden & Grove using all seedlings from Native Seeds/SEARCH! Master gardener Robert Vincent sat down with us to explain the concept of”Three Sisters” companion gardening and how he is using it in our garden.

Who are the Three Sisters?

Corn, beans, and squash. These are three of the most important crops in the agricultural and culinary history of Native Americans. A diet of corn, beans, and squash is complete and balanced: carbohydrates from corn, protein and amino acids from beans, and vitamins and minerals from squash. What one crop lacks nutritionally, the others provide. These crops can also be dried and consumed year round, a major benefit predating modern food storage capabilities.

How do the Three Sisters grow together?

The Three Sisters not only complement each other nutritionally, but in the garden as well! The tall corn stalks provide shade for the beans and squash, while also providing a structure for climbing bean plants. This in turn allows the sprawling squash vines a competition-free space to grow on the ground. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, crucial for the growth of the corn and squash, and also stabilize the corn stalks in high winds. Large squash plant leaves provide additional shade on the ground, promoting moisture retention and preventing growth of weeds.

The Three Sisters in the Maynards Garden

We planted numerous varieties of beans as part of our Three Sisters companion planting, all of them native to our region. Sprouting will likely begin within a week of planting, and the corn will be about knee-high in about two to three months (July/August)! Come see how things are sprouting in our garden!

For more information on the Three Sisters, visit this article from Native Seeds/SEARCH.