Walking short walk from where we live to town regularly we walk through small pastures and small fields scattered with Cows, Sheep, Chickens, Goats and other live stock from time to time. It is really nice to see how things change and what is going on so close to our little town of Cotacachi. A couple of things we noticed along the way were; how fast everything grows here, and growing other plants in the corn fields. I thought I recognized the plants growing with the corn so I started asking questions and researching it a bit to satisfy my curiosity. So what the heck are they doing?
One of the names for gardening this way is called “Three Sisters Garden”. But this was a bit larger scale from your backyard gardening and everybody is doing it. Since things grow here year round we have not seen what they do every time they plant, but this late September / early October, at least, they plant the Three Sisters.
From what I found out the Three Sisters are Corn, Pole Beans, and Squash. The Corn provides the pole for the Beans to climb and the beans add Nitrogen to the soil. The third sister Squash provides ground cover and helps keep moisture in the ground. Having never seen this way of gardening before I wondered whether were did this method come from or are these South American farmers’ just geniuses when it comes to growing things. Enter researching this method…
What I learned was that this dates back to the Native Americans and they shared it with the European settlers. So it is logical to deduce that this is the way they have done it here for centuries. They actually plant each plant at different times. First the corn is planted, next is the pole beans, and finally the squash. If you would like to see a short planning description of how to do this, this link does a good job I think http://www.nativetech.org/cornhusk/threesisters.html Here they don’t do mounds though as you can see in the pictures but the same concept is done here.
Following are a few pictures to aid in the visual for what I am talking about, (Note – It is a half mile to town and you can click on the picture to see a larger version):