Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Three sisters

I come from a family with three sisters, I've given birth to three sisters, and now I'm growing three more sisters.

Beans, corn,  and squash are the three sisters of the vegetable garden. After reading Joseph Boyden's book, The Orenda, a really fascinating novel about the Huron and Iroquois First Nations people and the French immigrants who brought them the small pox, guns and liquor, I decided to try some Aboriginal wisdom in my garden. The three sisters, supplemented with hunting, supplied a lot of the food for the original Canadians, and though this won't be supplying a lot of food for us (it's only one box out of 32 in my garden) I'm enjoying watching the sisters as they grow.

Companion planting has occurred for many centuries. The idea, in the case of squash, corn and beans, is that the nitrogen provided by the pole bean plant feeds the corn, which provides a trellis for it. The squash also benefits from the nitrogen, and shades the roots of the other two to prevent the soil from drying too much in the heat, like a living natural mulch. Of course, the First Nations people didn't use all these scientific words, but they clearly understood that the trinity of plants grew best together.

I suspect, already, that I've done my planting wrong -- should have waited until the corn was taller before adding the squash and bean seeds because the bean is already higher than the other two! But we'll see what happens, and I'll post pictures as things progress, and learn from my mistakes, as is often the case! Gardening has so much to teach me!

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