More than 800 years ago the native American Iroquois people developed and employed a “cooperative” way of planting their three main crops: corn, beans and squash—known as “Three Sisters.”
If planted close together, the corn would provide a stalk upon which the beans would climb. The beans would provide essential nitrogen to the soil and the large squash leaves would provide a ground cover to prevent the growth of unwanted plants and weeds.
We’re pairing two of the three sisters together this year.
We grow rows and rows of butternut squash to allow proper garden space (after growing butternut for more than 10 years, I am still amazed at the amount of space the squash will eventually require).
The beans are nestled close to the corn, and once trained, will likely be very happy to hitch a ride on the cornstalks. This saves us the trouble of arranging a trellis of some sort and is a connection to history we’re happy to make.
‘Three Sisters” was all about maintaining an efficient garden, and environmental harmony as well.