Plant a classic American Indian combination of squash, beans and corn and reap the rewards of one of the oldest recorded companion planting techniques in higher yields and less work.
The Three Sisters has been used for centuries by the Iroquois, who grew their staple foods of corn, beans and squash mixed up in the same bed.
Tall sweetcorn supports climbing beans, while large-leafed squash scrambles around the feet of the other two ‘sisters’, keeping weeds down and shading the soil. In return, the beans fix nitrogen from the air, benefiting both squash and corn.
The technique is easy to adapt for a British climate as long as you don’t sow all at once. Start corn and squash under cover this month, and plant them out as seedlings next month spaced around 30cm apart in blocks.
Once the corn is around 10cm tall, sow bean seeds, direct, at their feet. Less vigorous varieties, like 'Blauhilde', are easier to manage. As the corn and beans grow, train the beans up the corn stalks and pinch out sideshoots to keep them under control so you can still access your harvest. The squash, meanwhile, should spread out happily underneath, giving you the satisfaction of enjoying three crops from a single veg bed.