Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Three Sisters Garden

Every year we plant a vegetable garden in our backyard.  Everyone, even the kids, gets involved in its care from planting it in Mid-May through picking the produce in the summer months.  This year's yield has been less than stellar.  Blame it on the weather.  Blame it on all of us being more on the go than ever before.  But, for whatever reason, the result has been disappointing. 

On the drive home from my daughter's preschool themed dance class (see what I mean about being "on-the-go"), I noticed a garden worth envying.  At this house, the corn stood tall and impressive as opposed to our shriveled brown versions.  There were pumpkins vined at the corn's base.  Our pumpkin seeds had remained in the packet.  It had reminded me of a type of garden I had once learned about while teaching Pre-K:  a Three Sisters Garden.

What is it? You ask.  A three sisters garden is an ancient method of gardening I believe (but don't hold me to it) used by the Native Americans.  While the three sisters are not all that unusual - corn, squash and beans, the way these three plants work together is amazing.  Corn is the tall sister and the support system for the beans, the third sister, to vine up and around.  The bean plant in turn binds the three sisters together while keeping the soil fertile.  Squash, the second sister, covers and protects the ground, maintaining much needed moisture. 

In my garden, the corn stands off on its own.  Five yards away, we have sugar snap peas and two rows of zucchini squash.  All the plants were growing just fine until the stress of the extreme heat took its toll.  Next year, I'd like to try a three sisters garden and see if it indeed works as I have read.  I can't help thinking that my garden as compared to the three sisters garden are somehow a metaphor for life.  Something about the support of others helping with the stresses of life. 

If you'd like to learn more about growing a Three Sisters Garden, check out this site:

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