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  • 1. COMPANION PLANTING: BASIC OMPANION CONCEPTS & RESOURCES ESOURCES HORTICULTURE TECHNICAL NOTE ORTICUL TICULTURE ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information center funded by the USDA’s Rural Business--Cooperative Service. Abstract: Companion planting is based on the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted in near proximity. The scientific and traditional bases for these plant associations are discussed. A companion planting chart for common herbs, vegetables, and flowers is provided, as is a listing of literature resources for traditional companion planting. An appendix provides history, plant varieties, and planting designs for the Three Sisters, a traditional Native American companion planting practice.By George Kuepper & Mardi Dodson chart provided as Table 1) used by gardenersJuly 2001 have evolved from an interesting combination of historical observation, horticultural science, and a few unconventional sources. For ex-Traditional Companion Planting ample, some of the recommendations for companion planting, made around the middleCompanion planting can be described as the of this century, were based on the results ofestablishment of two or more plant species in sensitive crystallization tests (1).close proximity so that some cultural benefit(pest control, higher yield, etc.) is derived. The Originally developed by Dr. Ehrenfriedconcept embraces a number of strategies that Pfeiffer, sensitive crystallization testing entailsincrease the biodiversity of agroecosystems. the mixing of plant extracts with select salt reagents like sodium sulfate or copperGenerally, companion planting is thought of as chloride. The resulting solution is placed in aa small-scale gardening practice. However, in controlled environment chamber and allowedthis discussion the term is applied in its broad- to evaporate slowly. The process results in aest sense to include applications to commercial precipitate that often takes on beautifulhorticultural and agronomic crops. ATTRA geometric forms and patterns. Thehas another publication, Intercropping Principles characteristics of the pattern are studied andand Production interpreted to establish whether the plants arePractices, that provides additional information likely to interact well with each other (1).on larger-scale applications. Sensitive crystallization appeals to practitio- ners of Biodynamics™ (BD) and others whoWhile companion planting has a long history, take a more metaphysical approach to nature.the mechanisms of beneficial plant interaction Conventional science is much more skeptical ofhave not always been well understood. this process as a means to evaluate plantTraditional recommendations (see summary associations. Contents: Traditional Companion Planting............................................1 Companion Planting Chart ...................................................2 The Scientific Foundations for Companion Planting ...............3 Options For System Design..................................................4 References .........................................................................4 Resources...........................................................................4 Appendix: Ancient Companions ...........................................6 ATTRA is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology
  • 2. Table 1. COMPANION PLANTING CHART FOR HOME & MARKET GARDENING (compiled from traditional literature on companion planting)CROP: COMPANIONS: INCOMPATIBLE:Asparagus Tomato, Parsley, BasilBeans Most Vegetables & Herbs Onion, Garlic, GladiolusBeans, Bush Irish Potato, Cucumber, Corn, Onion Strawberry, Celery, Summer SavoryBeans, Pole Corn, Summer Savory, Radish Onion, Beets, Kohlrabi, SunflowerBeets Cabbage & Onion Families, Lettuce Pole BeansCabbage Family Aromatic Herbs, Celery, Dill, Strawberries, Pole Beets, Onion Family, Beans, Tomato Chamomile, Spinach, ChardCarrots English Pea, Lettuce, Rosemary, Dill Onion Family, Sage, TomatoCelery Onion & Cabbage Families, Tomato, Bush Beans, NasturtiumCorn Irish Potato, Beans, English Pea, Tomato Pumpkin, Cucumber, SquashCucumber Beans, Corn, English Pea, Irish Potato, Sunflowers, Radish Aromatic HerbsEggplant Beans, MarigoldLettuce Carrot, Radish, Strawberry, CucumberOnion Family Beets, Carrot, Lettuce, Beans, English Peas Cabbage Family, Summer SavoryParsley Tomato, AsparagusPea, English Carrots, Radish, Turnip, Onion Family, Cucumber, Corn, Beans Gladiolus, Irish PotatoPotato, Irish Beans, Corn, Cabbage Family, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomato, Marigolds, Horseradish Cucumber, SunflowerPumpkins Corn, Marigold Irish PotatoRadish English Pea, Nasturtium, Hyssop Lettuce, CucumberSpinach Strawberry, Faba BeanSquash Nasturtium, Corn, Marigold Irish PotatoTomato Onion Family, Nasturtium, Marigold, Irish Potato, Fennel, Asparagus, Carrot, Parsley, Cucumber Cabbage FamilyTurnip English Pea Irish Potato ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 2
  • 3. The Scientific Foundations for yield pest control benefits. The diverse canopyCompanion Planting resulting when corn is companion-planted with squash or pumpkins is believed toWhile conventional agriculturalists and BD disorient the adult squash vine borer andpractitioners may disagree over the validity of protect the vining crop from this damagingsensitive crystallization research, there is pest. In turn, the presence of the prickly vinesgeneral agreement today on the validity of is said to discourage raccoons from ravagingseveral mechanisms that create beneficial plant the sweet corn.associations: √ Nurse cropping. Tall or dense-canopied√ Trap cropping. Sometimes, a neighbor- plants may protect more vulnerable speciesing crop may be selected because it is more through shading or by providing a windbreak.attractive to pests and serves to distract them Nurse crops such as oats have long been usedfrom the main crop. An excellent example of to help establish alfalfa and other forages bythis is the use of collards to draw the diamond supplanting the more competitive weeds thatback moth away from cabbage (2). would otherwise grow in their place. In many instances, nurse cropping is simply another√ Symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Legumes— form of physical-spatial interaction.such as peas, beans, and clover—have theability to fix atmospheric nitrogen for their √ Beneficial habitats. Beneficial habitats—own use and for the benefit of neighboring sometimes called refugia—are another type ofplants via symbiotic relationship with Rhizo- companion plant interaction that has drawnbium bacteria. Forage legumes, for example, considerable attention in recent years. Theare commonly seeded with grasses to reduce benefit is derived when companion plantsthe need for nitrogen fertilizer. Likewise, provide a desirable environment for beneficialbeans are sometimes interplanted with corn. insects and other arthropods—especially thoseOn request ATTRA can provide additional predatory and parasitic species which help toinformation on Rhizobium inoculation. keep pest populations in check. Predators include ladybird beetles, lacewings, hover flies,√ Biochemical pest suppression. Some mantids, robber flies, and non-insects such asplants exude chemicals from roots or aerial spiders and predatory mites. Parasites includeparts that suppress or repel pests and protect a wide range of fly and wasp species includingneighboring plants. The African marigold, for tachinid flies, and Trichogramma andexample, releases thiopene—a nematode ichneumonid wasps. Agroecologists believerepellent—making it a good companion for a that by developing systems to include habitatsnumber of garden crops. The manufacture and that draw and sustain beneficial insects, therelease of certain biochemicals is also a factor twin objectives of reducing both pest damagein plant antagonism. Allelochemicals such as and pesticide use can bejuglone—found in black walnut— suppress the attained. For detailed information on estab-growth of a wide range of other plants, which lishing beneficial habitats, request the ATTRAoften creates a problem in home horticulture. publication Farmscaping to Enhance BiologicalA positive use of plant allelopathy is the use of Control.mow-killed grain rye as a mulch. Theallelochemicals that leach from rye residue √ Security through diversity. A moreprevent weed germination but do not harm general mixing of various crops and varietiestransplanted tomatoes, broccoli, or many other provides a degree of security to the grower. Ifvegetables. pests or adverse conditions reduce or destroy a single crop or cultivar, others remain to pro-√ Physical spatial interactions. For duce some level of yield. Furthermore, theexample, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may simple mixing of cultivars, as demonstratedshare space with lower-growing, shade-toler- with broccoli in University of California re-ant species, resulting in higher total yields search, can reduce aphid infestation in a cropfrom the land. Spatial interaction can also (3). ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 3
  • 4. Options For System Design Resources:Agronomists use the term “intercropping” to Traditional Companion Plantingdescribe the spatial arrangements of compan-ion planting systems. Intercropping systems Bob Flowerdew’s Complete Book ofrange from mixed intercropping to large-scale Companion Gardening. 1995. By Bob Flowerdew.strip intercropping. Mixed intercropping is Kyle Cathie, London, GB. 176 p.commonly seen in traditional gardens where Available online from Trafalgar Square Bookstwo or more crops are grown together without for $24.95 plus $5 shipping and handlinga distinct row formation. Strip intercropping is http://www.trafalgarsquare books.comdesigned with two or more crops grown to-gether in distinct rows to allow for mechanical Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companioncrop production. No-till planting or trans- Planting for Successful Gardening, 2nd edition.planting into standing cover crops can be 1998. By Louise Riotte. Storey Communications,considered another form of intercropping. For Pownal, VT. 226 p.more information on no-till planting, request Available for $15 plus $3 p&h from: Acres USAthe ATTRA publication Conservation Tillage. P.O. Box 91299 Austin, TX 78709 800-355-5313 512-892-4448 FaxRelated ATTRA publications Email:! Intercropping Principles and Production Companion Plants and How To Use Them. 1966. Practices By H. Philbrick and R. Gregg. Devin-Adair Publish-! Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control ers, Old Greenwich, CT. 113 p.! Introduction to Permaculture Available for $9.95 plus $4.50 p&h from:! Biodynamic Farming & Compost Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Preparation Association, Inc.! Conservation Tillage Building 1002B, Thoreau Center, The Presidio P.O. Box 29135 San Francisco, CA 94129-0135 888-516-7797References: 415-561-7796 Fax Email: biodynamic@aol.com1) Philbrick, Helen and Richard Gregg. 1966. Companion Plants & How To Use Them. The Devin-Adair Co., Old Greenwich, CT. Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting 113 p. System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden. 1998. By Sally Jean Cunningham. Rodale2) Boucher, Jude. 2000. Setting a Trap. Press, Emmaus, PA. 278 pages. Available for $13.56 plus $4.48 shipping and American Vegetable Grower. January. handling from: p. 20, 22. Amazon Books Daar, S. 1988. Mixing Broccoli Cultivars Reduces Cabbage Aphids. IPM Practitio- How To Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever ner. May. p. 12. Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine, 5th edition. 1995. By John Jeavons. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. 228 p. Contains an extensive companion planting chart. Available for $16.95 plus $4.50 p&h from: Bountiful Gardens 18001 Shafer Ranch Rd. Willits, CA 95490-9626 707-459-6410 ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 4
  • 5. J. Howard Garret’s Organic Manual. 1993. By J. Intercropping ResearchHoward Garret. Lantana Publishing Co., Dallas,TX. 203 p. ATTRA’s Intercropping Principles and Production A fine general guide on organic growing that Practices and Farmscaping to Enhance Biological features a brief table of companion herbs and the Control publications are good sources for basic pests they repel on page 48. Available for $18 information on intercropping. The following plus $3 p&h from: publications should prove useful. Acres USA P.O. Box 91299 “Border effects on yields in a strip-intercropped Austin, TX 78709 soybean, corn, and wheat production system.” 800-355-5313 1996. By T.K. Iragavarapu and G.W. Randall. 512-892-4448 Fax Journal of Production Agriculture. Vol. 9, No. 1. Email: p. 101-107. Provides a nice literature review of research toRaising With The Moon: The Complete Guide to that time on intercropping, highlighting theGardening and Living by the Signs of the Moon. multitude of factors causing variability in1993. By Pyle & Reese. Down Home Press, results.Asheboro, NC. 147 p. Contains both companion planting charts and a Multiple Cropping. 1976. ASA Special Publication listing of insect repellent plants. No. 27. American Society of Agronomy, 677 So. Available for $14 plus $3 p&h from: Segoe Rd., Madison, WI. 378 p. Acres USA P.O. Box 91299 “Strip intercropping for biological control.” 1993. Austin, TX 78709 By Joel Grossman and William Quarles. The IPM 800-355-5313 Practitioner. April. p. 1–11. 512-892-4448 Fax An excellent synopsis of intercropping. The IPM Email: Practitioner, published 10 times per year, is a benefit of membership in the Bio-IntegralRodale’s Successful Organic Gardening: Companion Resource Center (BIRC). Annual membershipPlanting. 1994. By McClure and Roth. Rodale for individuals costs $35. Contact:Press, Emmaus, PA. 160 p. BIRC Available for $14.95 plus $4.50 p&h from: P.O. Box 7414 Bountiful Gardens Berkeley, CA 94707 18001 Shafer Ranch Rd. Tel: 510-524-2567 Willits, CA 95490-9626 707-459-6410 By George Kuepper & Mardi DodsonRoses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other ATTRA Program Specialist &Secrets of Flowers. 1998. By Louise Riotte. Storey Project Intern, respectivelyCommunications, Pownal, VT. 240 p. July 2001 Available for $ 11.96 plus $4.48 shipping and handling from: Amazon Books Beneficial HabitatsTo avoid redundancy in our publications, anyoneseeking further information on beneficial habitats isencouraged to request ATTRA’s publication titledFarmscaping to Enhance Biological Control. Thispublication also provides additional references forfurther research. Other ATTRA publications thatmight be helpful for designing and managingbeneficial habitats include Biointensive IntegratedPest Management and Overview of Cover Crops andGreen Manures. ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 5
  • 6. Ancient Companions The Legend of the Three Sisters An Appendix to Companion The term “Three Sisters” emerged from thePlanting: Basic Concepts & Resouces Iroquois creation myth. It was said that the earth began when “Sky Woman” who lived in By Mardi Dodson the upper world peered through a hole in the sky and fell through to an endless sea. The animals saw her coming, so they took the soil from the bottom of the sea and spread it onto the back of a giant turtle to provide a safe place for her to land. This “Turtle Island” is nowIntroduction what we call North America.For centuries, many Native American tribes Sky woman had become pregnant before shethroughout North America have cultivated fell. When she landed, she gave birth to a daughter. When the daughter grew into acorn, beans, and squash. The term “Three young woman, she also became pregnant (bySisters” was primarily used by the Iroquois the West wind). She died while giving birth towho live in the Northeastern United States and twin boys. Sky Woman buried her daughter inCanada. These crops were considered to be the “new earth.” From her grave grew threespecial gifts from Great Spirit and were be- sacred plants—corn, beans, and squash. Theselieved to be protected by the Three Sisters— plants provided food for her sons, and later, forspirits collectively called the De-o-ha-ko, all of humanity. These special gifts ensured themeaning “our sustainers” or “those who survival of the Iroquois people (2).support us” (1).This ancient style of companion planting has Cornplayed a key role in the survival of all peoplein North America. Grown together these crops Corn is considered the most important of allare able to thrive and provide high-yield, high- Native American crops. Originating in Southquality crops with a minimal environmental America and Mexico, corn was introducedimpact. Corn, beans, and squash have a during the Mississippian Period (600 A.D. tounique symbiotic relationship in a Native 1450 A.D.) to North American tribes via anAmerican garden. Corn offers a structure for intricate series of trade networks. Corn, beans,the beans to climb. The beans, in turn, help to and squash combine to create a nearly perfectreplenish the soil with nutrients. And the large meal loaded with essential vitamins andleaves of squash and pumpkin vines provide minerals (2). In addition to its nutritionalliving mulch that conserves water and pro- values, all Native American tribes that grewvides weed control. corn considered it a sacred and spiritually valuable plant. Contents: Varieties Introduction ...............................................6 Choosing the right varieties of corn is essential Corn...........................................................6 to the success of a Three Sisters garden. The Beans.........................................................8 tall, sturdy heirloom varieties work best Squash.......................................................8 because they are most capable of supporting Cultivation and Planting Designs ..................8 Summary....................................................12 the beans. There are a number of Native References .................................................12 American heirloom corn varieties to choose from. Traditionally, most of the corn grown ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 6
  • 7. by Native Americans is dry field corn, which is Flour corns usually have thinner-shelled ker-used in flour production. Dry field corn is nels filled with soft white starch. Flour cornsharvested late in the season when the ears have were developed in the arid Southwest. Theydried on the stalk. are less likely to succeed in cooler northern regions with short growing seasonsDry field corn is divided into three categories, and in moist, humid areas where they aredent, flint, and flour corns. Dent corns are susceptible to a fatal rust disease. Hopi Pink isadapted best to the Southeast and the Midwest. a short, drought-resistant corn, with kernelsDent corn has a distinctive dimple-like dent on that range in color from cranberry to light of the kernel when it is fully dried. A dent This variety has plump, thin-shelled kernelscorn that grows well most anywhere in the that grind easily into fine flour. A flour cornUnited States is the Cherokee Blue and White that works well in northernof the Southeast. Reid’s Yellow Dent is also gardens is Mandan Bride. This variety is alsowidely adapted. Bloody Butcher drought-tolerant, with red, blue, yellow, pink,produces blood-red ears of corn on stalks that and purple spotted kernels (3).can reach from 10 to 12 feet (2, 3). Corn can be harvested earlier in the seasonFlint corn grows best in the northern plains when it is still “green corn.” Green corn isregion. The kernels of flint corn do not shrink harvested when the corn is still in the “milk”when they are dry. A popular flint corn is stage, when the kernels are at their sweetestIndian Ornamental with colors ranging from and can be eaten fresh. Varieties that are sweetpurple to yellow. Two popular flint corn when young are Blue Clarage, Bloodyvarieties are Fiesta and Little Jewels. Little Butcher, and Black Mexican/Iroquois. FlourJewels is a unique, “mini” ornamental with corns are usually not eaten in the green cornfour-inch-long, multi-colored ears and purple stage. Two exceptions to this rule are Anasazihusks (3). and Mandan Red. (3). See Table 1. Table 1: Colorful Corn Varieties Can Be Variety Type Color Eaten Comments FreshAnasazi Flour Multi ✔ Ancient Southwestern variety, drought-tolerantBeasleys Red Dent Dent Red Heirloom from IndianaBlack Mexican/Iroquois Sweet Blue-Black ✔ Smaller variety from the NortheastBlack Aztec Sweet Blue, Black, Purple ✔ Originated from southern MexicoBloody Butcher Dent Red ✔ Northeastern United States, Virginia areaBlue Clarage Dent Blue ✔ Ohio/West VirginiaBronze-Orange Sweet Bronze-Orange ✔ Selected by Dr. Alan KapulerCherokee Blue & White Dent Blue and White ✔ Grown throughout North AmericaCherokee White Flour White Grows 12-15ft. TallFiesta Flint Multi Developed in New HampshireHopi Pink Flour Pink Short, drought-tolerant, Southwestern varietyHickory King Flour Yellow 12 ft. tall heirloomIndian Ornamental Flint Multi Widely grown by North American IndiansLittle Jewels Flint Multi 4-inch-long corn developed in New HampshireMandan Bride Flour Multi Originated from the Mandan tribeMandan Red Flour Reddish-Black ✔ Developed in WashingtonOaxaca Green Dent Green Southern Mexico, makes green flourRainbow Inca Sweet Multi ✔ Developed by Dr. Alan KapulerRainbow Indian Flour Multi Developed by Dr. Alan KapulerTexas Honey June Sweet Yellow ✔ Heirloom, sturdy 7-8ft. StalksTuscadorea/Iroquois White Flour White Tall, Iroquois variety*Adapted from Amazing Maize! Cultivate Colorful Corns by Eric Rosenthal (3). ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 7
  • 8. Beans storage life and usually doesn’t turn orange until after it is harvested. A disease-resistantBeans provide a high-quality protein food variety suited for the Southeast is thesource that combines well nutritionally with Connecticut Field. This very vigorous Nativecorn. Beans also play a valuable role in the American heirloom yields large, bright orangeThree Sisters garden. Through a symbiotic pumpkins. Mayo Blusher is a very sweet, palerelationship with rhizobium bacteria, beans gray pumpkin that blushes pink when to take nitrogen from the air and convert Cushaw is a gourd-like squash that has beenit into a usable form for next year’s crop. grown in the Southwest by the Pueblo Indians for storage containers since pre-ColumbianVarieties times. Other varieties of squash also grow well in the Southwest depending on the amount ofPole beans are best adapted to directly climb moisture available (2).the corn stalk as opposed to sending runnersacross the ground. The Scarlet Runner variety Cultivation and Planting Designsis a popular heirloom pole bean that is famousfor its large clusters of bright red flowers. Planting designs and cultivation practices varyGenuine Cornfield consistently produces in according to climatic region. Garden stylesthe heat of Southern summers. True Cran- were developed mainly out of practical consid-berry, a dark red bean with a meaty texture erations, such as moisture availability, climate,and a nutty chestnut-like flavor, also performs and the length of the growing season. Thewell in the South and in the Northeast. Corn- Wampanoag garden style works well east offield, unrelated to Genuine Cornfield, does the Mississippi. Hidatsa gardens were devel-well in the Pacific Northwest because it ma- oped to thrive in the climate of the northerntures before the fall rains come. A favorite in Plains, while the Zuni waffle gardenwasthe arid Southwest is Hopi Purple, a purple designed to conserve water in the arid South-bean with black crescent moon stripes (2). western climate.SquashGrowing low to the ground, squash and pump-kin serve as living mulch. The large leaves SF Nblock out much of the sunlight, thus reducing SF SFweed seed germination. SF C SFAllelopathy may be an additional factor in Bweed suppression(4). (Allelopathy refers to SF SQ SQ SQ SQ SFchemical secretions from a plant which haveadverse or phytotoxic effects on some weed C C C C 4 ft Cspecies). B B B B BVarieties SQ SQ 4 ft SQ SQMost any variety of squash will work in a C C C C CThree Sisters garden. In addition to the con- B B B B Btemporary hybrid varieties, there are still sometraditional varieties available. In the North- SQ SQ SQ SQeast, the Penobscot and Abenaki still growLong Pie (a.k.a. Indian or Golden Oblong) C C Cpumpkin. B B BThis pumpkin looks like a fat zucchini with thetexture of a pumpkin. It has a long Figure 1: Circular Wampanoag Garden Drawing by Mardi Dodson Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 8
  • 9. Wampanoag Three Sisters Garden Figure 3: Wampanoag Squash Mound It was the Wampanoag gardens that enabled the early settlers of Jamestown to survive and thrive in the New World. Squanto was a S Wampanoag who “taught the newcomers to plant maize in little hills and fertilize each mound with an alewife, a species of fish” (5). With this efficient and intensive gardening S 8 in. S style, each family could sustain their needs on about one acre of land. Many of the tribes of the Northeast, including the Iroquois, used the Wampanoag garden design. S Planted without plowing or tilling, the Drawing by Mardi Dodson traditional Wampanoag garden includes corn, Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac beans, squash, and sunflowers. The corn and beans are planted in mounds, with squash about 4 inches high, with a wide base (about planted between the mounds. The sunflowers 18 inches in diameter) that narrows to a flat- are planted along the north edge of the garden, tened top (about 10 inches across). To conserve so that they do not cast a shadow on the other moisture, a depression with a lip may be crops (see Figure 1). When the sunflowers formed at the top of each mound (6). The have bloomed and the squash and beans have finished mounds have a remarkable resem- flowered, the Wampanoag Three Sisters garden blance to miniature moon craters. becomes a stunning cluster of red, yellow, and white flowers against a textured backdrop of When the mounds are ready, plant four corn shimmering greens. seeds about 6 inches apart and 3 inches deep in the top of each mound. Once the corn has First, the raised corn and bean mounds must be grown to a height of 4 inches or more, plant constructed. These small mounds are laid out four beans seeds halfway down the slopes on in rows with 4 feet between the centers of the the sides of each mound (see Figure 2). Allow mounds (see Figure 1). Each mound is the bean vines to entwine themselves around the cornstalks for support. The bean vines mayFigure 2: Wampanoag Corn & Bean Mound be pruned if they get too aggressive (6). Squash seedlings are planted at the same time B as the beans. Construct rounded mounds 3 inches high and about 1 foot across at the base. The squash mounds are staggered between the C mounds of corn and beans (see Figure 1). Traditionally, four seedlings are planted in the top of each mound. The B C 6 in. C B seedlings are arranged to represent each of the four sacred directions (see Figure 3). Both C winter and summer varieties are planted, including pumpkins, acorn squash, and sum- mer crookneck squash (6). B Sunflower seeds are planted at the same time Corn is planted 6 inches apart in the flat top of the mound. Beans are planted halfway down the slopes on the sides of the mound. as the corn. The smaller-flowering common sunflower, Helianthus annus, is traditionally grown in a Wampanoag Three Sisters garden. Drawing by Mardi Dodson Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 9
  • 10. The sunflower mounds are located SF SF SF SF SF SF SFat the north edge of the garden (see NFigure 1). The mounds are spaced C C C Cabout three feet apart from center,with three seeds planted (one seedper hole) atop each mound. The SQ B B B SQsunflowers seeds are traditionallyharvested after the first frost (6). C C C CHidatsa Gardens SQ B B B SQIn the northern plains, the Hidatsa,Mandan, and Arikara peoples C C C Cgardened along the floodplain of theMissouri River in what is now called SQ B B B SQNorth Dakota. Most of the tribes inthis region used the Hidatsa garden C C C Cdesign (see Figure 4). Hidatsagardens are designed to have alter-nating, staggered rows of corn and SQ SQ SQ SQ SQbeans, with sunflowers growingalong the north edge of the garden. Figure 4: Hidatsa Garden DesignSquash is planted after every fourth Drawing by Mardi Dodsonrow of corn and beans and around Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchacthe east, south, and westedges of the garden (6). Plant squash indoors in peat pots or seed flats when the sunflowers are planted in the garden.Sunflowers are planted as soon as the threat of Before planting in the garden,frost has passed. As in the Wampanoag gar- prepare the squash mounds (about 15 inchesden, three sunflower seeds are planted in small across at the base), with 4 feet between themounds 3 feet apart along the north edge of centers of the mounds. The squash moundsthe garden. The Hidatsa garden differs from are located along the east, west, and souththe Wampanoag garden when it comes to seed edges of the garden in alignment with the rowsarrangement—all three seeds are planted in one of beans (see Figure 4). Squash seedlings arehole. Hidatsa varieties of sunflower produce usually transplanted when they are about 4black, red, white, and striped seeds (6). inches tall and have put on their first set of true leaves (about two weeks after the corn is planted). To protect them from the Figure 5: Hidatsa Squash Mound heavy spring rains, four seedlings are planted on the sides of the mound in sets of two, 12 inches apart (see Figure 5) (6). In the Hidatsa garden, there are usually four corn mounds per row of corn. Note that the rows of corn are Space S S Seedlings in alignment but are staggered in 12 in. comparison to the beans (see Figure ½ in. S S apart 4). Hidatsa corn mounds are constructed in the same way as the Wampanoag corn and beans mound. The differences are that only corn is planted in these mounds and eight Drawing by Mardi Dodson Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 10
  • 11. seeds, instead of four, are planted in the Figure 6: Hidatsa Bean Moundtop of each mound (see Figure 6). Grow-ing corn together in bunches offers extrasupport and protection from wind andrain damage. NHidatsa flint corn is planted in May inNorth Dakota when the leaves of the 6 in.Gooseberry shrubs have emerged andfully formed. Corn is planted a week or B B B Btwo after the sunflowers have beenplanted. This flint corn is a semiarid B Bvariety with a growing season of about70 days. It is advisable to research whichcorn variety works best for your zone Bean seeds are planted on the south-facing slope of the mound. One seed is planted per hole, with a total of six seeds planted in each mound.and climatic conditions (7). Drawing by Mardi Dodson Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph BruchacBeans are planted at the same time ascorn. In a Hidatsa garden, beans are planted second person follows behind and plants oneseparately from the corn in their own mounds. seed in each hole. A total of six seeds areThe bean mounds are located between the planted in each bean mound (7).rows of corn in a staggered, alternating pattern(see Figure 4). The mounds are rounded ovals, Zuni Waffle Gardenabout 4 inches tall by 7 inches wide by 14inches long. Traditionally, two people worked The Zuni live in the Four Corners area of thetogether to plant beans. The first person made Southwestern United States. This arid climatesix holes in the south-facing slope of the bean at altitudes over 7,000 feet makes gardening amound. This is done in one swift motion by special challenge. The Wampanoag andthrusting both hands into the soil with the Hidatsa garden designs use raised mounds tothumb and first two fingers extended to make keep the root systems from being waterlogged.two sets of holes spaced 6 inches apart (see In contrast, the focus of this garden is waterFigure 7). The conservation. The waffles are about 12 feet by 12 feet. Each individual square is indented and surrounded by a high rim. In each square, a Figure 7: Hidatsa Corn Mound single crop or combinations of crops may be planted (see Figure 8). This garden design will work anywhere in the country where dry summer conditions are experienced. Traditionally, the crops are planted intensively C C with five to eight corn seeds in each hole to create clumps of corn similar to those in the C C C C Hidatsa garden. Corn seeds are planted 4-8 inches deep in light sandy soils and about 4 C C inches deep or less in heavier clay soil. Beans and squash have the same planting depths and spacing requirements as corn (8). The same number of beans (4-8 seeds) are planted around each clump of corn, one seed per hole. Only In a Hidatsa garden, eight seeds are planted one or two squash plantings (4-8 seeds in each atop each mound. hole) are added to each waffle (see Figure 8) Drawing by Mardi Dodson (3). As with the other two designs, sunflowers Concept taken from Native American Gardening by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac may also be planted along the ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 11
  • 12. S S B B B B B B B C B B C B B B B B B B S S B B B B B B B C B B C B B B B B B B S S Figure 8: Zuni Waffle Garden Drawing and Design by Mardi Dodsonedges of the Zuni Waffle garden. Helianthus the soil with nutrients. And the large leaves ofmaximilianii, a small sunflower with flower squash and pumpkin vines provide livingheads about 3 inches wide, is most commonly mulch that conserves water and provides weedgrown in the Southwest (9). control. This ancient style of companion planting has played a key role in the survivalSummary of all people in North America. Grown to- gether these crops are able to thrive and pro-Native American tribes of North America have vide high-yield, high-quality crops with amade enormous contributions to the foods we minimal environmental today. The dynamic trio known as theThree Sisters not only thrive when they are Referencesplanted together, they offer a well- 1. Eames-Sheavly, Marcia. No date. The Threebalanced, nutritious meal. Over the centuries, Sisters: Exploring an Iroquois Garden. Cornellmany plant varieties and gardening styles were University Cooperative Extension. p. 7.developed for each major climatic region. TheWampanoag (Northeast and South), Hidatsa 2. Erney, Diana. 1996. Long live the Three Sisters.(Plains), and Zuni waffle garden (Southwest) Organic Gardening. November. p. 37−40.offer a range of gardening styles to accommo-date most growing 3. Rosenthal, Eric. 1993. Amazing maize!conditions found in North America. Cultivate colorful corns. Organic Gardening. March. p. 30−35.Corn, beans, and squash have a unique symbi- 4. Fujiyoshi, Phillip. 1998. Mechanisms of Weedotic relationship in a Native American garden. Suppression By Squash (Cucurbita spp.)Corn offers a structure for the beans to climb. Intercropped in Corn (Zea mays L.). Disserta-The beans, in turn, help to replenish tion University of California Santa Cruz. ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 12
  • 13. 5. Gabarino, Merwin S. and Sasso, Robert F. 1994. 8. Talavaya Center. No date. Talavaya Seed and Native American Heritage. Waveland Press, Planting Manual. Espanola, New Mexico. Prospect Heights, Illinois. p. 308 p. 5−11. 6. Caduto, Michael J. and Burchac, Joseph. 1996. 9. Buchanan, Carol. 1997. Brother Crow, Sister Native American Gardening. Fulcrum Corn. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California. Publishing, Golden, Colorado. p. 70−93. 119 p. 7. Wilson, Gilbert L. 1917. Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians. Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, Minnesota. 129 p. The Electronic version of Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources is located at <http://>.The ATTRA Project is operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology under a grant from theRural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. These organizations do not recom-mend or endorse products, companies, or individuals. ATTRA is located in the Ozark Mountains at theUniversity of Arkansas in Fayetteville at P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702. ATTRA staff members preferto receive requests for information about sustainable agriculture via the toll-free number 800-346-9140. ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 13
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  • 15. Feedback1. Does this publication provide the information you were looking for? How could it be improved?2. Do you know a farmer who is implementing techniques discussed in this publication? Can you provide their address and phone number?3. Do you know of any related research that would add to the information presented here?4. Do you know a good related website not listed in this publication?5. Please add any other information, or comments that you wish to share. ATTRA// Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources Page 15
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