3 Sisters Companion Planting Minus One…

companion plants

I love using companion plants in my garden.  

Companion or complementary plants have qualities that help other plants in the garden.  They can repel bad bugs, attract pollinators and good bugs, fertilize the soil, prevent plant disease and in some cases – improve the flavor of fruit and vegetables.

companion plants

I am a huge fan of using companion plants in the garden.  Nasturtiums and marigolds are planted among my vegetables and help to repel damaging insects.

I also plant garlic and onions, not only to eat, but also to help keep the bad bugs away.

The other day, I was researching an article that I was writing for a magazine and I found out that companion planting has its roots in early American history.

Native Americans would practice the “3 Sisters” method of companion planting.  They would grow beans, corn and squash in the same area.

All of these plants help each other:

– The corn provides support for the bean vines to climb upon.

– The beans take nitrogen from the air and convert to a form that the corn and squash can absorb in the soil.

– The squash shade the soil, helping to maintain moisture and keeps weeds from growing.

So, my daughter, Gracie and I decided to adapt this plan for our garden and called it the “Two Sisters”.

companion plants

We decided to plant some of our Kentucky beans (that we had been growing indoors in Starbucks coffee cup sleeves) next to the young corn in our garden.

(Gracie was happy to help me.  Please ignore the unbrushed hair, but it was an early Saturday morning and we had better things to do – like PLANT!)

You can see how big the beans had grown.

companion plants

They grew quickly in the 2 weeks on my windowsill – just look at all the roots.

companion plants

We planted them next to our corn, keeping the cardboard sleeve around them.  (The cardboard will disintegrate in the soil).

Just 3 days later, I can see the beans already climbing up on the corn.

I realize that we did not plant any summer squash to complete the “3 Sisters”, but to be perfectly honest – I don’t like squash.


I spent 4 hours this morning, helping to add a hummingbird / butterfly garden with a pathway and benches in an area that is dear to my heart.

I can’t wait to share it with you soon.

On another front – we have been told that our insurance company will replace our carpet and paint some of our walls.  They took a piece of untouched carpet and padding and sent it to Florida to a place that will determine the quality of what we had, so that they can replace it with carpet/padding of comparable quality.

So, our living room is full of furniture of the kids rooms and other stuff.  We aren’t sure how long we will have to wait for our lives to get back to normal, but I am so grateful that insurance is covering the damages.

I hope you are off to a good start.

What are you doing in your garden this week?

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
6 replies
  1. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    Dear Noelle ~ What a fun post and so nice to see you and Gracie working together in the garden. Wonderful memories are being made.

    This weekend we cut back a thug star jasmine that had gotten out of hand in the front hedgerow. I've still some cleanup to do in the main garden area on the inside of this hedgerow. Hopefully I can get to that this morning and maybe tackle taking out a shrub and other stuff that we no longer want.

    Have a great week and a wonderful Easter.


  2. Katrina Blanchalle
    Katrina Blanchalle says:

    I've tried growing the three sisters a couple of times, but I just can't get the beans going in the summer. So I've ended up with a different two sisters – the corn and squash. The beans I have to leave to the winter garden.
    Isn't it funny how our gardens are only a few towns apart, but our microclimates are so different?

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    Hi there! I found your blog through your sister's somehow and really enjoy reading your posts on gardening, particularly the veggie posts and gardening in AZ. (I also live in Phoenix area.) A friend at work was just telling me about a book called Carrots Love Tomatoes. I have yet to read it myself, but it came highly recommended for companion planting tips. Also, just threw some nasturtium seeds in the garden per your recommendation. Thanks!

  4. My Journey With Candida
    My Journey With Candida says:

    Oh wow!! I did something right this year. I planted garlic not knowing it would keep bad bugs away. Thanks for the tip, I will be planting more.

    I have a Garden Club blog linky up on my blog if you are interested in linking on it. You can link any post, it doesn't have to be a new one.

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