3 Sisters Guild: Growing Corn, Beans & Squash together

The 3 sisters guild was something I first read about in Gaia’s Garden: Home-scale Permaculture book.

Growing Squash In The Garden

This post will teach you:

  • What the 3 sisters permaculture guild is
  • The big mistakes not to make

3 Sisters Guild: Growing Corn, Beans & Squash togetherWhat is the 3 sisters guild?

The 3 sister guild is a growing method adapted from the Native Americans that is seen frequently within the permaculture realm.  It contains corn, winter squash varieties like the spaghetti squash, and pole beans. The pole beans climb up the corn stalks, anchoring the corn into the ground and aid in restoring nitrogen. Allowing the beans to climb the corn reduces the need to build a trellis like a bean teepee. The trailing squash grows around the corn stalks, covering the soil which can help smother some of the weeds and making a good use of space. The spiny squash vines have the added benefit of keeping the corn safer from racoons. If you want to try a really pretty type of corn, I suggest using painted mountain corn in the 3 sisters guild.

A Guide In Creating A Polyculture and Proper Spacing of Mounds

Spacing guide from Fix

Guilds are popular permaculture garden designs as you’re creating a little ecosystem.

You want plants to work together, reduce pests and disease and to restore some soil nutrition.

3 Sisters Guild: Growing Corn, Beans & Squash together

Below you can see we grew corn in blocks of four.

Gardening: Growing Corn in Blocks of 4 Gardening: Growing Corn in Block of 4

3 Sister’s Guild Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some mistake not to make when growing the 3 sisters guild. Always make sure you have good soil fertility too as corn and squash need rich soil.

Grow a tall variety of corn. We grew bantam and it was too short!

3 sister guild- growing corn, beans and squash together

Corn is better grown in blocks as corn is wind pollinated. You need rows of 4 for adequate for pollination

3 sister guild planting diagram

Don’t grow bush beans, you need to grow pole beans to climb up the corn stalks.

3 sister guild: growing pole beans up corn stalks

Grow smaller sized winter squash otherwise they might damage surrounding plants.

Different Varieties of Squash

Grow vining winter squash not bush squash

Gardening: Growing Kuri Squash

Have you tried growing the 3 sisters permaculture guild? Did it work for you?