Companionship Planting: Sistering

Wherever we are planted, we thrive together in meaningful, reciprocal relationships. This is dedicated to my sister-friends in New Jersey, Colorado, California, Minnesota and Florida. Send good thoughts to your sister-friends.

I can do things you cannot.  
You can do things I cannot.  
Together we can do great things.
       ------Mother Teresa
Corn, Beans and Squash, Thriving Together, Each Giving What They Can
The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash/Pumpkins

The Three Sisters is a poetic example of companion planting. The biodiversity of the trio offers protective shade, structure, nitrogen and protections against invaders. 
The Three Sisters: Companionship Gardening

As older sisters often do, the corn, being the first to grow up quickly, breaks new ground, offers the next sister, the beans, a model of vital support.
The second sister, the bean, is the giving sister.  While leaning on her older sister, she pulls nitrogen from the air and enriches the soil. As a middle sister, trying to carve her own place in the sun, she winds her way up the cornstalk, unaware of how much she contributes.
Younger siblings often have more freedom to sprawl out freely.  The younger squash, the last to appear, shades the soil from the hot summer sun.  Broad and showy, her leaves take up space preventing invading plants to take over.  Younger sisters can be assertive and brazen.  Squash and pumpkins have prickly leaves that deter would-be nibblers. 
The three sisters do more together than they could alone.  Nutritionally, the combined amino acids, when eaten together, provides whole proteins, essential for a heathy diet. 
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding, your nearest kin.
       -------Proverbs 7:4
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
        — Elisabeth Foley

By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had been growing the “three sisters” for over three centuries. The vegetable trio sustained the Native Americans both physically and spiritually. In legend, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together. (See link below for resource)

Image by University of Illinois Extension


Resources, and Inspirational Readings:

Kimmerer, Robin. Braiding Sweetgrass. 2013. Minneapolis. Milkweed.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nancy E Buhrer says:

    oh yes once again absolutely beautiful wisdom and so true!! Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill R says:

    The Lenape practiced three sisters planting a millennium ago. It’s interesting that they knew the benefits so long in the past. Fun read.


    1. I wonder too, how they knew before what we know as science. Wonderment-worthy. Thank you, Bill R.


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