Planting Corn, Beans and Squash: The Three Sisters

The three sisters garden is a traditional Native American companion planting system. The three sisters refer to the three crops corn, beans, and squash. The beans fix nitrogen, which is important to the corn, and improve the overall fertility of the soil. The squash keeps the soil moist and discourages predators. Nutritionally these plants also complement one another. Corn provides carbohydrates, beans provide protein, and squash is rich in vitamins and healthy oils.

The seeds are connected to the cultures and people who have cultivated them. They are part of the stories of migrations, resiliency and the preservation of traditions. Some seeds we will be using in the gardens:

Lenape blue corn: Lenape Blue Flour Corn is actually named "Sehsapsing" and was originally brought to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) by the family of Sarah Wilson Thompson, a full-blooded Lenape who lived on the Delaware Reservation. Her family migrated from their original homeland in what is now New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern Delaware. These seeds were donated by Tony West from Appalachian Heirloom Plant Farm, Winchester, Ohio.

Indian Hannah, aka Lenape cutshort or Delaware cutshort. A small tan bean, tightly packed into pods. Very rare cutshort bean from the Lenape/Delaware Nation.

Gigi Hill blue flint corn: Gigi Hill blue flint corn is an 8-row flint corn traditionally made into blue corn mush and used ceremonially at Haudenosaunee naming rites. Gigi Hill is the person from whom the seeds were collected. She lives at the Cattauragus Reservation in western New York.

Iroquois shortnose white corn:This is one of the most popular flour corns of the Mohawk/Haudenosaunee. The plant is shorter in stature with smaller than average ears. Along with its larger cousin (Iroquois white flour corn), it is known to have come with the Tuscarora when they joined the Five Nations (now known as the Six Nations since the addition of the Tuscarora) in the early 1700s. It is by far the most popular corn used in Haudenosaunee communities, made into corn soup, cornbread, and other traditional dishes.

White bush scallop squash: From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This is an ancient Native American heirloom squash, grown by the Northern Indians for hundreds of years and first depicted by Europeans in 1591.