My three sister gardening project

One of my projects this year is to create a three sisters garden using climbing beans, winter squash and dry corn.  The squash, beans and corn will all be saved for the winter as well as seed for the following year.  What is a three sisters garden?  The three sisters system was one commonly used by native Americans.  The three cops commonly used were beans,corn, squash all growing together.

The beauty of the three sisters garden is that once it is up and running there is basically no maintenance needed.  The beans will grow up the corn for support and the squash will cover the ground suppressing weeds and keeping away small pests/rodents. 

The bean plants are not getting a free ride though.  The bean plants play a big role in the three sisters garden.  Why is that?  A bean plant is a legume.  Legumes are nitrogen fixers.  This means they pull nitrogen from their surroundings and put it back in the ground. 

In return for support and safety, the beans feed the corn and squash with power to grow.  This almost seems to good to be true.  Why didn't somebody think of this before!  Oh that's right, somebody did... hundreds of years ago. 

The three sisters set-up is a great system.  I tried a variation last year using sunflower plants, pole beans and slicing cucumbers.  This system grew well but because the cucumbers and beans needed to be harvested daily it was a bit of a pain harvesting.


My version of the three sisters from 2014

The traditional system only needs to be harvested once.  In the fall, you simply pick up the squash, pull off the dry ears of corn and dried bean pods and the harvest is done.  Chop and drop the corn stalks and let nature take care of the rest!

It doesn't get much simpler than that.  I am looking forward to adding the three sisters gardening concept in to my sustainable plan in 2015.  Once I get the system started, it will provide nutritious food for my family for basically zero cost for many years to come.  I will only need to plant, harvest, eat, save a few seeds each year.

If you are interested in learning more about my three sisters project, click the link below that will allow you to follow me on social media or via email.  I look forward to sharing my progress with you. 












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1 comment:

Dirk said...

Awesome makes sense to me. I realize that beans put nitrogen back into the soil, but never thought of this concept. I think I will try it on the farm, that way I have the room year after year. Thx. oh btw I monitor the weather etc with an app from this site www.islikely.com it allows to input parameters such as temperature, wind speed and others and when it is forecast you get alerted. Moreover it allows you to upload your own pictures. Easy to use also. Happy gardening and thanks.

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