The 3 Sisters – Corn, Beans, and Squash

I am (and have been for several years now) a member of the Fox Point Community Garden, which is in many many ways an idyllic community garden. It is effortless to join year-of (no real waiting list), and run by exactly the type of slightly new-agey and passionate middle aged ladies and hardened truck driving grandmas you hope and expect. The surrounding fence is covered in interesting metal work art, raspberry and blackberry bushes you can pick from, grape vines and flowers for the bees. And we have our own beehive.

The 3 sisters is a farming technique used by the native americans and taught to early settlers. Living in Providence RI there is actually a demonstration of this technique in the Roger Willam’s National Memorial Park and I’ve always been interested in trying it out.

The basic idea is corn provides scaffolding for the beans to climb up, and the squash provides ground cover to protect the roots from drying up. Additionally corn likes a lot of nitrogen which the beans provide in the form of nitrogen fixing bacteria nodules.

I based the spacing and such roughly on these two blogs. You’re supposed to give the corn a bit of a head start so that by the time to beans sprout and begin to climb they don’t completely overtake the corn and have nowhere to grow.