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Three sisters garden

8 years ago

I'm planning a three sisters garden for the first time this year in two of my garden plots (an established one, and a new one). The established plot is about 4'x4' and the new one will be somewhere around 6'x3' (haven't actually trudged through the snow to get back there and measure).

I've searched online but I haven't found any specific guidance on how closely to space the plants, when to start each one, etc. I plan to start my squash inside in mid-April and put it in the garden 2 weeks after the spring frost date (May 2). The corn and beans can be direct sown on the spring frost date, right? Would it be better to start the corn inside a few weeks earlier with the zucchini to give it a head start on the beans which will need to climb up it?

I've grown zucchini pretty well in the first plot for the past 2 years. They shared the spot with pumpkins the first year, but it didn't work, the pumpkins didn't have anywhere to go and ended up dying from powdery leaf mildew. Last year, the back of that bed was empty. THIS year, I'd like to plant some corn and pole beans behind the zucchini, but I'm not sure how a typical 3 sisters garden is laid out/how many plants to grow in the space/etc. As far as layout goes, the bed is up against the east side of the house and will have tomato trellis in much of the southern 4'x4' half of the bed. I was thinking of putting the corn closest to the house for wind protection, then the beans in front of the corn and the zucchini in their normal place in the front of the bed.

The second bed is totally new and needs to be amended with compost and vermiculite (that's what I used for the established beds and it is SUCH an improvement over my existing soil). There is a little more space there since I'm not constrained to an existing bed, but sunlight is a little iffy because of a lilac bush to the south of it. I was planning on planting another type of corn, more pole beans and two types of squash (Amish pie pumpkin and spaghetti squash). I'm not right up against the side of the house here and could do a more circular layout if that made more sense... I'm just having a hard time picturing how it will work and haven't found many helpful pictures or diagrams to show plant spacing and layout. Also, it's hard to tell how much of an issue the lilac bush is going to be come Spring. I've been trying to watch the sun and it seems to come around the bush pretty well, but there will definitely be some shade throughout the day. I could move the bed around the corner to the east of the lilac bush (full sun) instead of the north of it, but that will mean less space to work with (and that's also where I was hoping to put my watermelon vine).

Sorry this is so jumbled. First experience with a 3 sisters garden and I'm feeling a little lost.

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