Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Three Sisters



Miss Karen's Second Grade just planted the beginnings of what we call "The Three Sisters Garden" What is that you ask ? The Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are traditional plants that were used by various Native American Tribes throughout North America. They are a wonderful example of what is called "Companion Planting"

Corn, Beans and Squash have a very close friendship, in that they are companions, or "best friends" as the Second Graders learned. The Corn grows tall, the beans use the corn as a pole to grow up, at he same time the beans fix nitrogen into the soil, and then the squash with its large leaves and shallow root system, covers the ground below keeping out weeds and animals. We spent some time before planting, learning what it felt like to be each one of these plants and how they relate to each other. The class was separated into Corn, Beans, Squash and Weeds. A circle was created, then the corn kids took root in the ground, some pesky weeds entering and tried to take up all the space. The corn decided they were not very good friends with the weeds, so they asked the beans to come in and hug them, after that they invited the squash in to make sure to cover the ground. We asked the weeds to come back in to see how much space they could take...they were clever weeds, they still found a place to lay, but they were definitely limited. Now we will water, weed and wait for our Three Sisters to grow !




This is really a fascinating subject to teach children in the Garden. Not only is it fun to plant, and learn about the plants, but there is an abundance of folklore, stories and history surrounding the Three Sisters Gardening. Below is a legend that came from the Iroquois"s about the Three Sisters


The Iroquois Legend of the Three Sisters

It was said that the earth began when Sky Woman who lived in the upper world peered through a hole in the sky and fell through to an endless sea. The animals saw her coming, so they took the soil from the bottom of the sea and spread it onto the back of a giant turtle to provide a safe place for her to land. This Turtle Island is now what we call North America.

Sky woman had become pregnant before she fell. When she landed, she gave birth to a daughter. When the daughter grew into a young woman, she also became pregnant (by the West wind). She died while giving birth to twin boys. Sky Woman buried her daughter in the new earth. From her grave grew three sacred plants, corn, beans, and squash. These plants provided food for her sons, and later, for all of humanity. These special gifts ensured the survival of the Iroquois people.


For more detailed information about how to start your own Three Sisters Garden click here.

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