A bit of wisdom of those who came before…
Native American tribes employed a companion plant system that involved squash, beans, and corn, known as “the three sisters”.
From the the Farmer’s Almanac:
By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had been growing the “three sisters” for over three centuries. The vegetable trio sustained the Native Americans both physically and spiritually. In legend, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.
Each of the sisters contributes something to the planting. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single planting.
- As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans necessary support.
- The pole beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
- As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
- The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds.
- The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons and other pests, which don’t like to step on them.
Together, the three sisters provide both sustainable soil fertility as well as a healthy diet. Perfection!
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