Three Sisters Companion Planting

Our Seed Manager, Evette, explains this ancient companion planting method.

One of the oldest examples of companion planting

The Three Sisters planting combination is one of the oldest examples of companion gardening.

It was practised by Native Americans thousands of years ago, and is still widely planted in vegie gardens across the world today.
The three plants used in this ancient gardening system are beans, corn and squash (any trailing member from the Cucurbit family will work- pumpkin, melons, cucumber etc). The principle behind this combination is that the beans will use the corn as a support to climb up, and in turn as they are in the legume family they will fix nitrogen from the soil and make it more available to the other plants. The rambling squash vines provide a living mulch and help shade the roots of the corn and the beans, preventing them drying out in the heat of summer. And as most of the Cucurbit family have spiny stems they also prevent pests climbing up to eat the corn and beans.

So simple and easy to do at home

You need an area of well prepared garden bed that is no smaller than 3 metres square, and in a full sun position.

All of the seeds are sown directly into the ground in late spring- early summer.

First sow the corn and squash. Sow the corn in blocks of at least 4x4 to ensure good pollination rates. Sow the corn about 15-20 centimetres apart. Interplant the blocks of corn with squash plants, planting the squash seeds about 10 centimetres apart. Once the seeds have germinated thin the squash seeds so there are about 2 plants for every 4 corn plants. Then 3-4 weeks later, or once the corn plants are around 10 centimetres high it is time to plant the bean seeds. Plant 2 or 3 bean seeds at the base of each corn plant.

You will need to make sure you weed between the plants while they are still young. But once the plants are established you need to do little else except water in hot or windy time.

So as you can see these Three Sisters have a beautiful relationship and live in harmony together. By practising this planting combination you are ensuing this age old gardening tradition is continued for thousands of years to come!



The low-down on asparagus by Camilla Lazzar


Growing and harvesting avocado by Clive Blazey


The basics on blueberries with Julie Willis


Julie Willis shares the simplicity of planting bulbs


Marcus Ryan shares his tips on growing citrus trees


Growing and caring for dahlias with Camilla Lazzar

Dragon Fruit

Jamie Alcock's tips on growing this exotic fruit

Espalier Training

Julie Willis tells us how to espalier fruit trees


Camilla Lazzar's hints on growing and harvesting garlic


Melon varieties and how to grow them with Julie Willis


Tim Sansom's 5 key points on growing microgreens

Oca (New Zealand Yam)

Camilla Lazzar on this 'lost crop of the Incas'


Camilla Lazzar on growing the humble spud!

Seed Sowing (Vegetables)

Easy steps for growing from seed with Evette Jungwirth

Seed Sowing (Wildflowers)

Easy steps for growing from seed with Evette Jungwirth

Seedling Care

Tim Sansom gets you started with your spring mini-seedlings


Julie Willis' hints on growing strawberries

Sweet Potato

Camilla Lazzar's planting, growing and harvesting tips


Totally tea with Julie Willis


Growing tomato tips from The Diggers team

Tree Planting

Bill Bampton shows us how to give trees a good start in the garden

Vegie Garden Basics

Creating a vegie garden from scratch with Julie Willis

Related Authors

Evette Jungwirth

Evette is a passionate backyard gardener and has been a Diggers Botanical Guide. Over the years she has also headed up the Heronswood Garden Shop, plus our plant, seed and bulb departments, giving her a wealth of knowledge to share with members.

Related Images


Back To Top
Member Exclusives
A flower-full spring garden for under $30. A new collection of stunning hardy spring perenials and annuals, perfect for creating a darling spring cottage garden with ease. 5 Speedings each of Foxglove `Glittering Prizes', Hollyhock `Black', ever reliable Salvia Horminum `Pink'. Complete with easy-to-sow seeds of Love in the Mist `Blue' and whims...
Member $29.95
Checking stock, please wait..
BABACO - Champagne Fruit
BABACO - Champagne Fruit
A feature plant in our sub-tropical food gardens at Heronswood, this tropical-looking small tree produces lemon sherbet-flavoured melons, also known as 'Champagne Fruit', in its second year. This is the paw-paw for southern gardeners, with the combination of exotic fruit and lush palm- like leaves. No need for a pollinating partner as the Babaco...
Member $29.95
Checking stock, please wait..