Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Preparing for Spring Gardening-Three Sister Planting

Pin It We spent a little time this Sunday at the community garden harvesting and planning out what and where we will be planting in the next few weeks.  It alway blows my mind that as soon as we are getting a real harvest from the garden, it's time to start planning and planting for the next season already.  It seems like yesterday that we planted these carrot and rutabaga seeds and so quickly, they are all grown up!  We got to bring them home and fill up the frig...what a beautiful sight!!

This year, we are trying a new style of planting that we have never had the space in the past to attempt.  The hubby has been chomping at the bit to plant corn since the day we put our first seed in the front yard.  With our limited space, we are always seeking out ways to get the most bang for our buck.  We've learned in the past, usually the hard way, how not to plant.  We've learned that three tomatoes in one pot are way too many, pumpkins can take over the entire front yard, peas need full sunlight.  Sometimes we just can't help but push the boundaries and experiment with how to cram as many plants into our little space as possible without effecting their yield.  This time, the Native Americans have done all the experimenting for us, and we will just follow instructions (if we can control ourselves).

Early Native Americans had spiritual beliefs that tied corn, squash and peas together in perfect growing harmony, but their very successful system has been passed down through early American settlers and still remains in practice.  Basically, the peas grow up the corn stalk and the squash fill in the ground below as a ground cover to choke out weeds and keep the soil moist. Genius!

Here's how it works:

You will need a 10 x 10 space divided into 3 rows.  Each row is 10' long and at least 18" wide.

Start Planting when tempatures at night reach the 50's.

Use the diagram below
B=beans (any pole variety)
S=squash (like yellow neck, zuchini, pumpkin, cucumber, etc)

Plant the corn in a square, each seed being 6" apart.  

Once the corn is about 4" high, plant the beans in a square fitting inside the corn 6" apart as well (3" from the corn plants).  For each "S" in the diagram, plant three seeds.  If all three germinate, pluck one so that you only have two squash plants between each mound of beans and corn. 

We planted our corn two weeks ago, and will be ready for beans and squash this weekend...lots more pics next week!!

Happy Planting!!



  1. Hey Danielle. I know you posted this a long time ago, but I'm trying to plan our garden, this year, and am curious as to how the three sisters worked out for you. I planted them together for the first time, last year, and the squash did really poorly. I'm going to give it another go, but suspect this is my last chance before my hubby loses patience, so I need to get it right!:) thanks!


  2. I know how you feel Alyssa! You know, I have been through the same as you, and this year I found a new hefty way to ensure that my seeds sprouts. You will be surprised what jogs your memory from elementary school. Get a plastic egg carton or ziplock bag. Wet a paper towel on moth sides and lay the seeds on top. Cover it w/ plastic, and now YOU have the choice in a couple of days to see which seeds look the best and discard the ones that didnt sprout. I hope this helps. :)