The “Three Sisters” garden is a traditional companion planting method used by Native Americans for at least 5,000 years. Each “sister” is an agricultural crop that benefits another:
- corn: provides climbing support for beans
- beans: provides nitrogen to the soil which corn and squash can access
- winter squash: prevents weeds by blocking sunlight from reaching the soil
Sometimes there was an inclusion of a fourth sister: sunflower, bee balm, bee plant, or another flower that attracts pollinators. You can see a garden in action in our Introducing the Three Sisters Garden video. For growing information, check out our Late Summer Garden Plan.
- Harvesting Beans (2:39)
- Harvesting Corn (non-Big Green video)
- Harvesting Pumpkin (non-Big Green video)
Other Late Summer Garden crops:
If you’re not going to use your harvest immediately, check out food storage information at Savethefood.com. You can also learn more about nutrition, food storage, and preservation by visiting Nutrition.gov.
- Big Green Tasting (Recipes) and Eating Page
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (non-Big Green link)*
- 3-Ingredient Pumpkin Pancakes (non-Big Green link)*
- Manataka American Indian Council’s Three Sisters recipe roundup (non-Big Green link)
- Bon Appetit’s Three Sisters recipe roundup (non-Big Green link)
* These recipes were previously included as part of our monthly newsletter, The Big Green Beet. You can read previous newsletters in the Our Blog section of our website. If you are affiliated with a Big Green garden and would like to receive the newsletter, please reach out to your Garden Educator.
Extension Activities for the Classroom
For activities, lore, information on crop varieties, Native American Three Sister recipes, corn husk doll activity, and more check out The Three Sisters: Exploring an Iroquois Garden. It is often cited on websites and blogs due to it’s thoroughness. It predates NGSS and Common Core by quite a bit but it is still a great resource!