By Acme Homes 3-21-2023
Acme Homes builds communities in Snohomish Washington. The natural beauty and the rich history of our state makes it a joy to live in. A huge part of Washington State history is intertwined with Native American culture and traditions. When it comes to gardening and farming in our region, we can learn so much from the Indigenous people who cultivated the land before us. If you are eager to turn your yard into a garden this year, why not try utilizing the Native’s technique of planting the Three Sisters.
What Are the Three Sisters?
The Three Sisters are a set of plants that have a type of symbiotic relationship. Traditionally the Three Sisters are groupings of corn, beans, and squash or gourds. The corn creates tall stalks that the beans can climb onto and mature and the squash develop large, sprawling leaves that provide ground cover and shade. When planted in the same soil, these plants also do well to level out and supply the soil with nutrients that benefit all the plants.
Almost any variety of corn should do. The only note would be that popcorn varieties do not grow very tall and therefore may become overwhelmed by the other plants. Other than that, you can use flint corn, sweet corn, or any other variety that you fancy. As we mentioned, as the corn grows tall and matures, it will provide the perfect trellis for your beans.
Black beans, green beans, lima beans. Any variety of beans will do. When you decide to harvest your beans will determine how you eat and prepare them. Harvesting beans earlier will be ideal if you want to eat the soft pods. Harvesting later in the season will produce beans that are perfect for soups. The amazing thing about beans is that they introduce nitrogen into the soil. This nutrient is essential to fruit and vegetable production and will result in stronger plants and better yields.
Most squashes and gourds do well in a Three Sisters arrangement. Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin. Once they establish, they make quick work of covering the surrounding soil with their vines and leaves. They love to soak up bright sunshine and their large leaves do well to protect the corn and beans from sunburn.
In summary, the Three Sisters are tried and true companion plants. They are the embodiment of “better when together”. If you are a lover of these vegetables, why not try growing them this way in your garden this year!