Companion planting is an age-old practice of planting herbs and veggies together to naturally repel pests, attract pollinators or improve fertility. A form of companion planting called ‘the three sisters’ has been used by Indigenous Americans for centuries: it is the practice of growing sweetcorn, pumpkin (or butternut) and runner beans together. Besides making sense from a companion planting perspective, it is a great space-saver for small gardens.
The sweetcorn provides shade and support for the pumpkin/ butternut and beans, and the beans supply nitrogen for the corn. All three veggies require plenty of water. For really limited space, it may be better to grow bushy squash (baby marrows, patty pans or gems) rather than trailing squash.
Good to know: Don’t sow everything at the same time. First sow the sweetcorn in situ. When it is about 30cm tall, sow the beans and when they are about 30cm tall, sow the squash or pumpkin. The beans and squash grow faster than the corn and will overgrow and smother it if everything is planted at the same time. Try these: