Three Sisters Garden Design in India

Last Updated: 17.10.2023
Harpreet Monga
Written by
Harpreet Monga, a seasoned content writer and gardening enthusiast, has crafted over 150 articles at India Gardening. She expanded her writing journey with freelancing at the Times of India. Her passion for writing shines through her contributions to various book projects. Harpreet's commitment is to sow stories that resonate with readers, fostering a deep connection to the natural world.

What is a Three Sisters Garden Design? How can you make on for yourself for the harvest of nutritious crops? This guide is all you need!

Three Sisters Garden Design

The pair of corn, beans, and squash growing in the same mound is termed as the three sisters. Originated by native Americans, these three crops are planted together as companion plants. In this garden design, a heap of soil is built, firstly maize seeds are sown. When maize crops grow and attain some specific height, squash, followed by beans are planted around the maize crop. The idea behind the Three Sisters Garden Design and intertwining of crops is that these crops support each other in individual growth.

  • The maize crop helps the beans by offering support to climb upon, reducing the need for poles and stakes.
  • In return, beans elevate the fertility of the soil by fixing the nitrogen content in the roots. Beans also provide stability to maize by making maize less vulnerable to blow in the wind.
  • Whereas, the squash works as a mulch around the heap due to its sprawling nature. Hence, it reduces the chances of water loss from the soil. The shallow-rooted squash resists the growth of weeds as well.

Story of the Three Sisters

The reason behind such a name is the legendary story of Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. According to the Iroquois beliefs, these three sisters, corn, beans, and squash are the gifts from the Great Spirit, known as De-o-ha-ko. From the ancient perspective, beans, corn, and squash are the three Native American maidens, always staying together. Hence,  plant these three inseparable sisters, as companion plants, in the same mound.

How to Create a Three Sister Garden?

Choosing the Right Variety

The very first step while designing three sisters planting layout is to decide the variety you are choosing for planting. Make sure not to prefer bush varieties for any of the crops.

Maize- Choose a tall variety, so that it can assist beans enough space to climb up.

Beans- It should not be bush. Consider choosing a non-vigorous climbing variety, which should be sturdy as well.

Squash- Again do not go for bush variety. Look for the vining variety.

Three Sister Garden Layout

  1. During early spring, prepare an area, which receives at least 5-6 hours of sunlight. Improve the quality of soil by amending it with compost or organic matter.
  2. Make a mound of soil with a flattened top, which should be atleast 3-4 feet wide and 1-2 foot tall.
  3. In the center of the mound, create a small pit.
  4. Now, sow 4-5 seeds of maize, which should be 5-6 inches apart. Sow them 2 inches deep in the soil.
  5. The maize seeds will sprout in two weeks.
  6. When the maize crop grows and attains the height of 4-5 inches, sow 6-7 bean seeds around the plant in a circular fashion.
  7.  Sow bean seeds at least 4-6 inches away from the maize plant and sow squash seeds at least 1-foot away from the bean plant.
  8. As these crops will grow, the beans will attain upward growth, while the squash will cover the base. The beans will take the support of maize crop to climb upward.
  9. Water the plants thoroughly each week.
  10. Planting three crops in such an order ensures that all three sisters will grow and attain maturity together.

Other Plants in Three Sisters Garden Design

Apart from these three sisters, people often consider growing Amarnath and Sunflower as companion plants. These plants have the perk of attracting pollinators and prevent other sisters from the scorching afternoon heat. Sow sunflowers between maize plants and sow amaranth in the middle of squash plants. Sunflowers are popular for their seeds, whereas Amarnath gives both edible leaves and seeds.

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