Utilizing the Three-Sisters Planting Method

Dan This Land of Ours


While there are many different types of companion planting, this method has been used for centuries by the Iroquois indians. Cathy Isom explains the Three- Sisters Planting method. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours. 

Utilizing the Three-Sisters Planting Method

The three-sisters planting technique utilizes corn, climbing beans, and squash. Each plant serves a purpose in this design. The corn provides support, the climbing (pole) beans add nitrogen to the soil through nitrogen fixation, and the squash protects all the sisters in a two-fold fashion. The large squash leaves shade the soil to reduce weeds and keep the soil moist. This sister’s prickly nature deters pests away from the produce. 


You’ll need plenty of space to utilize this technique.  The required method for this planting is in mounds, which need to be one foot high and four feet wide.

These mounds also need to be spaced out so that there are three to four feet between each mound.  Also, the varieties of each plant will depend on the USDA hardiness zones you live in.  Planting begins after your local frost-free date.  While the date on the calendar may tell you it is time to plant, you need to make sure that the soil is warm and not wet.

Start by planting your corn seeds first. For corn, the best varieties are dent, flint, and flour. Plant pole beans next after corn is about five inches in height. And then about a week after pole beans are planted, it’s time to plant the squash. Pumpkins that are suitable for the three-sister plant method are those that are small, such as the Small Sugar. The key is to make sure that the pumpkins are small enough so that the weight of the fruit does not break the cornstalk.

I’m Cathy Isom…

Video by: GrowOrganic Peaceful Valley

The Three Sisters is a planting method, developed by Native American tribes, that is one of the earliest examples of companion planting.

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