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The Three Sisters Planting Method

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The "three sisters" planting method is an old Native American trick that makes use of the tall corn stalks as a pole for beans to climb. Then squash or another spreading vine is planted nearby to be used as ground cover to keep weeds out.

I waited until my corn was a few inches tall before I planted the pole beans and ... was it squash or cucumbers? (shrugs) I can't remember which, but I guess I'll find out soon enough. Both squash and cucumbers are spreading vines, so they will both accomplish the ground cover goal.

Here is a wide shot of my raised bed garden. You can see the three sisters in action at the bottom left of the picture. (Don't ask what is going on in the middle bed.)

And here is a close up of the three sisters.

Now it's your turn! Do you have a gardening post to link up? If you do it will appear on 3 super cool blogs which include:

But first a little lecture.

AHEM (Smockity clears throat.)

It has come to the attention of the management that there are some of you linking up without putting a link in your post to one of the super cool host blogs.

That is pretty much like the time in college when I  a certain someone allegedly kept parking in the "faculty only" parking lot because it was such a short walk to her class and no one really noticed, that is until the day she got a parking ticket and learned her lesson.

If you park your blog here, you MUST have a parking sticker. And we are about to start passing out violations. Do NOT make me turn this car around! Do you hear me?!

There now. Do we all understand the rules? Okay... GO!

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  1. Duh. I saw “three sisters panting method” and expected to see three of your girls planting seeds together in some sort of assembly line fashion!
    Never mind that I have actually heard of the three sisters method, and I believe you mentioned it right here on this very blog recently.
    I’m ok. Really. Carry on.

  2. I am actually planning on doing the 3 sisters crops this year for the 1st time. The previous ownerss stripped the soil pretty good and corn has NEVER grown well for me. I am in hopes that with this the corn will grow. FINGERS crossed. I haven’t gotten to plant anything yet. There is some lettuce and onions that was ever so kind to come back from last year and the rest of the stuff is growing in my garage. Here in OHIO the weather is very strange in May so most crops don’t get out until most likely next weekend when flooding stops.

  3. Scott attempted the 3 sisters ino our garden in Amarillo. I think it would have been great, if only the corn had grown that year!

  4. Sounds like a great gardening method and one I may need to try :)

    I shared my recipe for Spring garden beets in the linky. Roasted beets make a wonderful, healthy, and frugal dip!

    Thanks for hosting the linky, Smockity.


  5. What a great way to get more planting space from your garden. We are planting melons in with our second crop of corn. With our first crop, we planted luffa squash and it kept getting eaten by after it got it’s first real leaves. I have one lone luffa that came up as a volunteer.

    Thanks for hosting this! I found you guys through A Virtuous Woman. I’ll be visiting often – it’s so fun to peek into others gardens!

  6. Uh-oh. Guilty! {hanging head in shame} I TOTALLY spaced off the fact that when you link up blogs, I’m supposed to link back to the host blog. Silly baby blogger, will I ever learn? :)

  7. Jessica says:


    Thanks for the pictures/write up. I’d heard about the three sisters method at a workshop held by our local extension office last year; I’m totally going to try it this year.

    I do have one question about your picture, though: it looks like you planted the squash plant right at the base of the corn. Does it have to be like that or can you plant it directly in between your rows of corn?

    Thanks in advance for any info!

  8. I did the three sisters method one year. Since the corn was planted pretty densely, I planted the squash (acorn or butternut, don’t remember which) at the corners of the bed, and planted snow peas in with the corn instead of the beans. Since the peas were shaded, they produced well into the hot Texas spring. Worked out pretty well, but once the corn got tall, it was hard to get into it to get to the peas.

  9. Beatrice says:

    We’re not planting corn so we did the 2 sisters method – a trellis with cucumbers and snow peas. Unfortunately rabbits or squirrels have uprooted my snow peas. I don’t really want to do a fence, it’s harder to pick the produce (not that we’ll have any produce to pick at this rate!). I’m hoping when I plant my marigolds this week it will deter these pests. Normally the squirrels stick to the sunflower seed that we put out for the birds and the bunny sticks to the clover in our grass.

  10. I just read your update about the three sisters gardening that you are doing. I thought you were talking about yourself and your two sisters. I read your note that says “you can see the three sisters in action at the bottom left of the picture. Don’t ask what is going on in the middle bed.”
    I was expecting to see yourself and your two sisters in the picture working
    in the garden and I wondered what a bed would be doing in the middle. Then I read your explanation about the 3 sisters. Thanks for the many chuckles !!!

  11. I am doing the three sisters method this year too! Though in my first plantings I started them all together. So… that should be interesting!

    However I have lots more beds to fill so I’ll space out the next groupings of them.

    OH and do you have a widget for the Frugal Gardening series? I just put your regular link on my post.

  12. I love this! I can’t wait to try it, although I may need to wait until next year;)
    Thank you for posting this!

  13. Okay, silly question…the beans don’t choke out the other plants? (I’m a newbie!)

    Lana @ ilovemy5kids

  14. my bad for not having a ‘parking sticker’ It’s there now :)


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