Native American Three Sisters Garden
Earth-Tones Indian Dent Corn provides natural poles for bean vines to climb and the beautiful dried ears make tasty cornmeal and/or decorations.
Rattlesnake Bean Vines support the corn stalks and fix nitrogen on their roots to improve soil fertility. Blossoms attract pollinators and high protein dried beans are great for chili.
Shallow-rooted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Vines make a living mulch, shading out weeds and preventing moisture loss. Use Sugar Pie Pumpkins for tasty pies and holiday celebrations.
At season's end, incorporate crop residues back into mounds, building the soil's organic matter.
HOW AND WHEN TO PLANT
1. Choose a site in full sun (minimum 6 to 8 hours/day of direct sunlight throughout the growing season). Amend the soil with plenty of compost or aged manure. With string, mark off three 10 foot long rows, each 5 feet apart.
2. In each row, make your corn/bean mounds. The center of each mound should be 5 feet apart from the center of the next. Each mound should be 18 inches across with flattened tops. Stagger the mounds in adjacent rows.
3. Plant 4 to 6 corn seeds in each mound in a 6 inch square. Protect from birds with netting until seedlings are 4 inches tall.
4. When the corn is 6 inches tall, it's time to plant the beans and squash. First, weed the entire patch. Then plant 4 bean seeds in each corn mound. They should be 3 inches apart from the corn plants.
5. Build pumpkin mounds in each row between each corn/bean mound. Make them the same size as the corn/bean mounds. Plant 4 or 5 pumpkin seeds, 4 inches apart in a triangle in the middle of each mound.
6. When the pumpkin seedlings emerge, thin them to 2 plants per mound. You may have to weed the area several times until the pumpkin vines take over and shade new weeds.