Three Sisters Companion Planting

There were a couple things I tried differently this year.  One of them was a Three Sisters planting.  I’ve not tried growing corn up here before.  I’ve been wary of it blowing over, but I thought maybe this method would help it to hold up better on our windy hilltop.

A Three Sisters planting is basically alternating hills of corn and squash, with pole beans using the cornstalks for a trellis.  The directions I followed were found on this site.  They had good measurements and diagrams. 

I followed it pretty closely, however I planted more corn to a hill than they indicated.  It only called for four, but I planted twelve instead.  So far this has not been a problem.  I was doubtful that only four corn plants would be able to properly pollinate each other, given the distance between the mounds.  Also, I did not want to assume that all four would germinate in the first place!

I’ve got a variety of different things growing in the squash mounds, not all of them squash.  I planted mini pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins, sweet dumpling squash (they’re so cute), french melons, canteloupe and also watermelon.  The watermelon have proven themselves to be the thickest growing vine and an effective living mulch.  The canteloupe are thriving.  I can see so many melons setting on them and they will be ready here in probably less than a month.  I am really looking forward to those.

Now my beans, those are coming along, but have not really grown as fast as I thought they should.  I planted Nickel beans — a slender, white, heirloom Appalachian cornfield bean.  Fortunately I didn’t plant the whole package, so if they fail and I cannot save seed from them there’s always next year.  The instructions were to plant the beans when the corn reached 4″ tall, but it seemed like they took forever to germinate.  I think maybe I should have either soaked them first or kept the ground watered until they sprouted.  Maybe they’ll catch up.

So far so good.  I like this arrangement.  It makes efficient use of my garden space.  We’ve had a couple windy storms already and the corn stalks have held up very well.

I think it may end up being difficult to get in there to harvest everything when the time comes.  It’s very dense!

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10 Comments

  1. May 3, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Hi, I will soon be teaching an internet course called Understanding Modern Agriculture and would love to include a picture of your three sisters crops at https://journey11.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/three-sisters-companion-planting/

    I would include it on one slide in one lecture, crediting you, of course.

    May I have your expressed permission?

    Many thanks!
    Bailey Norwood
    Oklahoma State University

    • Journey11 said,

      May 3, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Sure, that is no problem. I’m glad you found it useful.

  2. Cheryl Childers said,

    September 6, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    Your Blogg is fun, I loved reading it. Still havnt read all of it, but I ll be back to read more, thank you so much for sharing this with Ray & me. Hope to see you soon, Amanda you are one of the most creative people I know! Love Aunt Cheryl

  3. July 8, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    PS: Visiting you from the TEG bloggers thread. Cheers! 🙂

    • journey11 said,

      July 8, 2010 at 1:08 AM

      Thanks! Glad to see my comment section is working! 🙂

      I subscribed to your blog. It’s very cool and interests me a lot. Your artwork is adorable, btw!

  4. July 8, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    I was reading about this kind of planting this spring, but didn’t have the space ready to try it out. I’ll be watching to see how it worked out for you! We have a windy place, too… pesky breeze, though welcomed it is here in central Texas.

  5. Deborah said,

    July 8, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    Wow… That looks really cool. It seems kind of like square foot gardening right?

    • journey11 said,

      July 8, 2010 at 1:05 AM

      To tell the truth, I really don’t know much about square foot gardening, although I’ve heard of it. This lays out kind of like a checkerboard. I think the distance between the center of each mound was two and a half feet.

      • Deborah said,

        July 8, 2010 at 1:10 AM

        I don’t know much about it either… thats why I was asking you. 😉 But it looks beautiful!

  6. Heather said,

    July 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Your three sisters looks great! I haven’t been as happy with mine. My beans have pulled over most of my corn stalks. Unless I figure out how to keep it from happening again, I’m not going to be planting a three sisters garden again.


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