For centuries the three sisters have been the center of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. It is for a good reason as these three sisters complete each other in the garden as well as nutritionally. By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had allready been growing the “three sisters” for over three centuries. The vegetable trio sustained the Native Americans both physically and spiritually. The legend says, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.
But who are the three sisters and should you have them in your garden?
The crops of corn, beans, and squash are known as the Three Sisters.
Corn will provides tall stalks for the beans to climb so that they are not competed out by sprawling squash vines.
Beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil while also stabilizing the tall corn during heavy winds. Beans are nitrogen-fixers meaning they host rhizobia on their roots that can take nitrogen, a much needed plant nutrient, from the air and convert it into forms that can be absorbed by plant roots.
The large leaves of squash plants gives shade to the ground which helps retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
Together, the three sisters provide both sustainable soil fertility as well as a heathly diet.
Before planting, choose a sunny location (at least 6 hours of full sun every day). Each hill will be about 120 cm wide and 120 cm apart, with 4 to 6 corn plants per hill. Calculate your space with this in mind!
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