Photo: My Three Sisters garden in Riverdale, June 2013 – John Zeus
A Native American Garden
With the late arrival of spring in Toronto, many of us “urban farmers” are anxious to start planting our new gardens. Using Companion Planting, where one plant helps the other, a Three Sisters garden is an old fashioned, but very effective Native American farming technique. Unlike modern agri-business – which is based on yields extracted from the land regardless of environmental costs – Native American gardening, which is a form of small-scale farming, enriched the land.
A Three Sisters garden can be planted on a smaller scale. Plant the corn first. When the corn reaches 12 centimetres in height, plant your bean seeds. About a week later, plant your squash seeds. The corn supports the beans, the beans provide nitrogen, and the squash keeps moisture in and shades out the weeds. Urban garden harmony!
The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash
According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility.
- Plant the corn after danger of frost has passed.
- Plant the pole beans when the corn is 5 inches high.
- Plant the squash seeds one week later.
Please purchase seeds from a supplier that carries GMO free seeds. We have expert seed vendors at Withrow Market who sell GMO free seeds and are always happy to give you some good planting advice.