Three Sisters Garden: Corn, Beans, and Squash

squash corn beans three sisters garden

Sometime over the past year, the transformation happened. I went from veggie garden enthusiast to passionate nerd farmer intent on designing the most productive, pretty, and low maintenance garden possible for our space. Still working on the pretty part…

Succession planting, interplanting, and companion planting has dominated my garden planning for several seasons now. We starting sowing new beans and peas every ten days. We tucked herbs in between peppers. A few seasons ago, we took a stab at companion planting and let the carrots grow under the tomatoes.

carrots tomatoes garden vegetables

It’s true: carrots love tomatoes. Tomatoes provide shade, extending the season for the more heat sensitive carrot. Tomatoes also produce solanine, a toxin that kills fungus and pests. In turn, carrots help more air and water get to the tomatoes roots as they burrow into the dirt while growing.  This season we have four tomatoes in a 4’x4’ area surrounded by carrots. While the tomatoes haven’t ripened yet, we’ve harvested about five pounds of carrots so far. That’s about only half of the carrots growing in that space!

squash corn beans three sisters garden

This spring, we planted a Three Sisters garden, consisting of corn, squash, and beans. The “Three Sisters” is a planting method credited to the Native Americans. In addition to offering a well-balanced diet, these plants help one another thrive.

three sisters garden companion planting corn squash beans

The corn acts as support for climbing “pole” varieties of beans. The squash vines weave between the other plants, its huge leaves acting as mulch to keep the ground cool and weeds to a minimum. The beans introduce nitrogen into the soil for the benefit of all the vegetables, especially the corn.

So far our Three Sisters garden is doing awesome. We have only harvested beans and squash, but we have ears on almost all the corn plants! Here’s what we planted in the 4’x8’ bed:

three sisters garden plan vegetables corn squash beans

What are you favorite planting companions or interplanting combinations?



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