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Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

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Sanna
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Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:05 pm

I fell in love with the concept of "Three Sisters". It is basically when you plant Corn, Zucchini and Beans together. The story behind this type of Companion Planting is what attracted me and got me into trying it. 

Three sisters, or the Inseparable Sisters is - as far as I have been told - an old Native American way of growing Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans together. When grown together - you can plant them really close to each other (closer than you can if you grow them separately). The three crops are different types, and have characteristics that complement each other in a great way. 

- Corn grows tall and with that, they offer the Beans something to climb. 
- Beans supply support back to the Corn, and also feeds Nitrogen back into the ground for the Corn to use.
- Zucchini or Pumpkin have big leaves and shallow roots. They help keeping the ground moist and also prevent pests and animals to dig in the ground due to the Plants somewhat prickly leaves.

These three crops also provides a smart nutrient combination to your food.

This is my first year growing Three Sisters in one of my raised beds. Here's the journey so far:

I first started Sweet Corn from Seeds. I selected an early Variety since our growing season is quite short. The Corn is supposed to be started first to geat a head start before the Zucchini and Beans are planted. If you want to know more about starting Corn from Seeds - that journey is in this separate Topic: Growing Sweet Corn from Seeds.

When the Corn Plants were big enough I planted them in one of my Raised Beds. I planted them in a group and quite close together, since straight rows with larger distance might make it harder for the plants to pollinate. 

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The spring was very cold this year, so I had to keep the Corn Plants indoors for longer than I originally planned. They were quite thin when I moved them outdoors, but they did catch up great.

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A few weeks after the Corn was Planted, and when the Corn started to look healthy - I added Zucchini and Pumpkin Plants to the Companion Planting. 

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I planted them in between and quite close to the Corn Plants. You can see how close they are in this picture:

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I now waited for a few more weeks unil i planted Sugar Snap Peas close to the Corn Plants. I had plans to start Beans, but ended up starting Sugar Snap Peas instead (more about that in this post: Sowing Sugar Snap Peas Indoors).

The Three Sisters now grow really close together, and they look beautiful in the raised bed. I did harvest the first Zucchini this week and the plants look great even though all the plants are so close together. Here are some pictures from the progress.

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I regularly put Grass Clippings between the Plants.


chalky
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Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:46 pm

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:46 pm

Wow they look great! How big is the raised bed? 4 x 4 ft?
Sanna
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Posts: 755
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:57 am

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:59 pm

chalky wrote:
Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:46 pm
Wow they look great! How big is the raised bed? 4 x 4 ft?
Thanks! :) This Raised Bed is aproximately 2,6x4 ft (80x120 cm). You can grow these crops really tight and get a surprisingly big harvest from that small area.
Alaura02
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:37 am

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:47 am

I want to try this garden plan this Autumn but I was wondering if you could do squash. Would that be ok with the beans and corn?

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Sanna
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Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:41 am

Alaura02 wrote:I want to try this garden plan this Autumn but I was wondering if you could do squash. Would that be ok with the beans and corn?

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Yes! Image Squash works very well instead of pumpkin. Had Sweet Corn, Sugar Snap Peas and Squash last season. Good output from all three! Image


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John
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Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:58 am

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:53 am

Started to cut. Some hedges, honeysuckle is a bit overgrown. Generally spending time watering, hopefully might get some rain Tuesday


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John
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Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:58 am

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:31 pm

Growing three sisters works for me in Charente. I think it came from native Americans and they put a fish in the planting hole as well.

So remember to give the plants plenty food.


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LakotanSF
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Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:50 am

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:05 am

You can also plant corn in rows of 4 or 6 per row for good pollination and the same for the bean but plant around/close to the corn and do the same with the squashes. I know this story and planting style very well
Good to see someone is still doing this.

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Ava R.
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Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:40 pm

Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:45 pm

I think it is great that people still grow things from long ago. I really want to grow Hopi Corn, from the Hopi tribe.


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Sanna
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Re: Growing Three Sisters - Companion Planting Corn, Zucchini/Pumpkin and Beans

Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:50 pm

LakotanSF wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:05 am
You can also plant corn in rows of 4 or 6 per row for good pollination and the same for the bean but plant around/close to the corn and do the same with the squashes. I know this story and planting style very well
Good to see someone is still doing this.

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Good to hear! Thank you! I fell in love with the idea when I first heard about it, and it's really working! It's the best companions I've tried so far I think. Have you tried any other companions that has worked out well?
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