05500If you’re thinking about planting the 3 Sisters this season, consider replacing or supplementing your squash vines with another easy-to-grow, heavy-bearing sun-lover: melon!

This “stepsister” serves the same function as squash, offering dense ground coverage at the feet of your corn and around your climbing beans. Children and other vegetable-phobes may greatly prefer eating sweet, juicy melons to hard- and soft-shelled squash. And you may be amazed at the range of varieties available from seed!

Image of 3 SistersWhat is a 3 Sisters Planting?

The 3 Sisters is a native American planting group that has been grown for centuries in our soil. Corn serves as the natural support for twining bean vines, while squash keeps the soil beneath both other crops evenly moist and cool while suppressing weeds. A 4th Sister, Sunflower, is often added. But why shouldn’t melon, though not native to North America, become a companion or even a replacement to squash?

Why Melon?

Melon serves the same function as squash in the garden. It is vining, with lots of foliage cover that can suppress weeds, help retain soil moisture, and keep soil temperature even. The seeds can be direct-sown at the same time as the other Sisters. In other words, it’s the perfect addition to your 3 Sisters companion planting!

Types of Melons for the Stepsister

And if “melon” makes you think of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, that’s a great start, but also consider the less commonly grown (but just as easy!) types: ananas, Christmas, galia, and canary! All are available from seed at Park Seed, along with our handy tip sheet for growing them. Happy 3, 4, or even 5 Sisters Planting this season!


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