The three sisters planting method is one of the world's oldest examples of companion planting, dating back over 5000 years. First pioneered by Native Americans, this style of planting helps to minimise the amount of watering, weeding and fertilisation needed - increasing harvest sizes and producing a crop more resistant to drought.
Maize (sweet corn) is planted first, once the danger of frost has passed, to provide height and support. When the maize plants have reached around 6 inches (15cm) in height, climbing beans are sown around the base of the maize plants. Lastly, around a week to ten days later, squash plants are sown around the outside of the other two crops.
There are significant benefits to the three sisters method. Maize is a tall, robust plant, which tends to heavily deplete the soil of nitrogen. Naturally occurring soil bacteria Rhizobia cause nodules to form on the roots of the beans, which fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, helping to feed the maize and reducing depletion of the soil's nitrogen levels. The maize in turn provides support for the beans, raising them above the ground and maximising their available sunlight. The heavy foliage of the squash plants then provides cover around the base of the maize and beans, blocking direct sunlight, reducing moisture loss and wind erosion and screening weed growth.
We've put together this collection for anyone wanting to try the three sisters growing method. The collection contains one packet each of the following:
Sweetcorn Swift F1 (35 Seeds)
Climbing French Bean Cobra (70 Seeds)
Butternut Squash Hunter F1 (10 Seeds)
These varieties have been chosen for their heavy cropping characteristics, which should help to ensure a bumper crop, even in the extreme heat experienced in the UK in recent summers.
If you give this method a try, we'd love to hear how you get on! We'd particularly like to hear any three sisters planting or growing tips, which can be shared in the review section below.