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3 Sister’s Garden: How-To + History

Are you familiar with the 3 Sister’s Garden? I first became aware of this garden in my grade 10

food’s class from my teacher Mrs. Wyche. I was intrigued with the notion that these three plants grew together in a synergistic way. Although I have never endeavored to plant a 3 sisters garden, I enjoy cooking with their fruits during this time of year. If you are interested in planting your own 3 sisters garden I have included a planting description below. First I will provide some history on why this garden is called the “3 Sisters”

History

The 3 Sisters garden is based on an Iroquois legend which relates to the 3 sisters providing food throughout the winter. The circle of life narrative and all living things relying on each other to survive are both key elements.

This companionable garden consists of corn, pole beans and squash, although pumpkins or gourds can be substituted for the squash and sunflowers can be added. The method behind this garden is that the cornstalks support the beans, squash keep down the wees and reduce evaporation. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil needed for corn and prevent soil erosion and promotes water conservation.

How to Plant the 3 Sisters Garden

A few things to note before starting:

  • The planting sessions are separated by a few weeks
  • Plant seeds in two stages
  • An outdoor garden requires warm soil in late spring, with twice weekly watering over summer
  • Sunny garden plot

Planting the Garden:

  1. Prepare the soil: turn soil over to a 15 cm depth. Be sure to separate large clods of soil to allow roots to spread.
  2. Create a flat top mound 30 cm (12”) high and 50 cm (20”) in diameter along the top. Pack the soil around the sides of mound and form a slight bowl-shaped indent in the top to retain water.
  3. Sow 5 corn seeds in a circle shape centered on the mound. Ensure seeds are planted in holes 2.5 cm (1”) deep and 15 cm (6”) apart. Water well.
  4. Wait for corn to be 15 cm (6”) high, then plant four pole bean seed and four squash seeds evenly spaced around the corn
  5. Watch the garden grow!

We’d love to hear about your 3 Sisters Garden! Comment below if you’ve planted one before or send us a picture of your garden to communications@LCRC.on.ca

Adapted from: “A Three Sisters Garden.” Green Teacher, no. 65, 2001., pp. 18 Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Education; Education Database, https://www.lib.uwo.ca/cgi-bin/ezpauthn.cgi?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/228741954?accountid=15115.

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