Posts tagged ‘3 sisters’


In order to maximize energy and space in the garden, many gardeners choose to co-plant multiple crops together in the same field.  In the Beach flats garden, corn beans and squash are planted together in various formations according to each gardener’s experience and traditions.  Corn beans and squash co-planting is known as a three sister garden and is common in many indigenous planting traditions.  There are two ways in which corn and beans are commonly co-planted in the Beach Flats Garden.  The more common method involves planting the corn 1 to 2 months ahead of the beans, so the corn has time to grow.  This method produces a larger yield from the corn in exchange for a smaller quantity of beans.  The other method involves planting them at the same time and allowing the beans to climb over the corn as it grows.  The bean yield is greater while the corn is reduced.  As the beans grow they feed the soil to the benefit of the corn beans and squash in the parcel.  The third sister, squash, can be seen growing in the rows.  The squash plants reduce evaporation and weed growth by making shade in the parcel.  Vine squash can be trained to grow down the rows to maximize the effect.  However a gardener chooses to plant, if the garden has corn beans and squash, its a happy garden.

August 4, 2012 at 6:00 am 1 comment

How they grow

The beans we planted in our parcel are sending up tendrils, looking for something to climb. Soon they will find the houses we built for them.

May 31, 2012 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Calabaza Calabaza Calabaza!

Squash, zucchini, pumpkin, whatever you call them in english, they’re all called calabaza in spanish.  In the beach flats garden, the calabaza is king in the late spring and early summer.  They can produce fruit until late fall in Santa Cruz, but when the first fruit appears in April – May, gardeners start counting the days until the calabazas are ready.

May 29, 2012 at 10:19 am 1 comment

Bean Houses

The main task for the day was building  sturdy houses for our beans.  Several weeks ago we planted our beans in circles in the garden.  Ojos del venado and Black turtle beans are the two varieties we have growing now.  The houses I Built for them today are made of bamboo poles about 8 feet long.  I shoved the ends in the ground and bound the tops with wire in several places for stability.  Soon the beans will begin climbing the poles in their quest for the sun.

May 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm 1 comment

Planting in Circles

Beans are one of the staple crops in our garden, providing valuable protein and vitamins for vegetarians and omnivores alike.  Most types of beans are hardy vines that will grow prolifically under the right conditions.  Because of their viny nature, they like to have something to climb on like a fence, some poles, a Tipi, or cornstalks.  We decided to build small tipis for our beans instead of the trellises we used last year.  Bamboo stalks from the yard of a good friend will the building material for our bean houses.  We started by planting beans in a circle; now they are sprouted and will soon send out long tendrils seeking for some support. Planting in circles is common in many three sisters gardens.  In a 3 sisters garden, corn beans and squash are co-planted in a traditional way to maximize efficiency of water, space and labor in the garden.

May 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm 2 comments

Staple Crops

The Beach flats, garden is a garden of sustenance, and our staple crops are corn, beans, and squash.  There are as many ways to plant these crops as there are gardeners, but many jardineros de la playa choose to intercrop their corn and beans.  This is an ancient practice that involves planting the corn and beans together, staggered in both time and space so that each plant gets what it needs from the other (with the help of their loving gardener).  The beans are a prolific vine that will climb anything they can get their tendrils on; while the corn is a towering giant that needs humans to survive.  The beans climb up the corn in their quest for the sun, providing vital nutrients to the soil that benefits both plants.  In some cases, gardeners plant squash at the base to provide shade which minimizes weed growth, and evaporation.  Corn beans and squash are known as the three sisters; between the three sisters there exists a symbiotic relationship that requires the guidance of loving caretaker.  To intercrop your corn and beans you must plant the corn 1 to 2 months ahead of the beans.  This gives the corn a head start that it needs to avoid strangulation by the overzealous beans.  When your corn is knee high, plant the beans between the corn, in the same row.  Some of the gardeners just use the corn for support; planting the corn and beans at the same time will give you a good harvest of beans, but not corn.  This is a good way to provide support for your beans without building a structure.


May 2, 2012 at 6:00 am 3 comments

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