The “3 Sisters” is an ancient gardening method employed by Native Americans. The legend itself is a beautiful tale of the three “girls” – beans, squash and corn – who grow side-by-side in the field. It explains not only the order in which they are grown, but their harvest order as well.
If you’ve never heard the legend, you can read one version at the Cornell University website.
The concept surrounding the 3 Sisters is companion planting. Squash shades roots from sweltering heat, beans fix nitrogen to the soil for corn, and corn gives a solid stalk for the beans and squash to vine. The corn is planted in a mound first, followed by beans in the same mound. At the same time as the beans, squash is sewn in alternating mounds.
Some modern gardeners tend to dislike the system because it offers lower yields than others, such as crop rotation. However, when space is limited and intense rotations are not an option, the 3 Sisters is an excellent method for backyard gardening.