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Three Sisters Method of Growing

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Rock breaks scissors. Scissors beats paper. Paper covers rock. I've got a new take on this game.

How about...

Corn supports beans. String beans help corn. Squash shades beans.

The scientific definition of a symbolic relationship is a relationship between two or more species, which may or may not be beneficial to each other.

In our case, it is beneficial.

The Native Americans where geniuses when it came to figuring out what plants worked together in order to give them the best harvest. It was life or death to them. Crop failure could mean starvation.

In our increasingly urban life, we can adopt some of the Native American's practice's in order to grow more, in a smaller area, using less water and chemicals.

This type of planting is best known as the three sister's method and also as companion gardening. Did you know that this method dates back to 1000 AD?

So let's get to planting.

First you plant your corn and sunflowers which will serve as support for your crops that vine. The corn and sunflowers also protect your crops from the harsh South Carolina sun.

Always plant corn close together so that they can pollinate each other. Plant corn about three to four inches apart.

When the corn or sunflowers are about five inches high, plant your crops that vine, so they can run up the stalks. You can plant anything from cucumbers to running beans. Plant about four inches out from the corn and/or sunflowers. Beans pull nitrogen from the air, which will help feed your corn. Corn needs a lot of nitrogen.

One week later, you can plant your squash or zucchini. Plant them about eighteen inches away from your vining crops. The big leaves from the squash plants will shade the roots, so that water will be slower to evaporate.

I am going to add another crop to the mix. This crop is a must. Flowers- you must plant some flowers in the garden in order to attract bees. If you have no bees, you will have no squash nor zucchini. Plant a wildflower mix, petunias, buckwheat or pretty much anything that is a flower. Your sunflowers will also attract the bees.

So in this garden, corn supports beans, beans fertilize corn. Squash shades beans. Wildflowers attract the bees. Bees pollinate the squash.

The three sisters invited their cousins into the mix. I hope you take advantage of every bit of garden space this planting season and try the Three Sisters Method. As always, Let's get growing South Carolina.

Did you grandma have a garden? Isn't it amazing that just in a few short generations that we have lost almost all of our ancestor's knowledge?

Let's get some of that back. Check out our gardening course, complete with the seeds.

For every ten boxes that we sell, we put a box into a school, charity or church. Your purchase of our garden box makes that happen.

Sal's is the ONLY ol' timey feed and seed store left in Columbia, SC. Come by and visit us. We have homemade jams, local honey, seeds and plants. AND a friendly smile and lots of knowledge. Let's get growing South Carolina.

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