Friday, April 29, 2011
Today was a chance to join social studies and gardening. Mrs. Lanes' first grade class planted a classic Native American garden - a three sisters garden. Rather than planting crops in monocultural rows - corn, beans, and squash all off in separate fields - Native Americans planted all three "sisters" in mounds. These three crops have a wonderful relationship- the corn provides support for the beans, the beans provide nitrogen for the corn, the squash shade the earth and keep it cool and suppress the weeds.
I was going to plant seed corn, but then learned I had to wait 2 weeks for it to come up before I planted the beans. A quick visit to our wonderful local feed and seed/hardware/allsorts store, Griffs solved the problem, 4" high Silver Queen starts. We enriched the soil with mushroom compost and made our mounds. Then 18 very excited first graders worked in shifts to plant the sisters. We planted the corn oriented to the North, South, East and West as Cherokee would have. Then each corn plant got two bean seed sisters and each mound will have 4 pumpkin seeds. I bought cheap seeds and there were only a few seeds in each packet so I shall have to back and sow some more tomorrow. I lined the garden with sunflowers. I'm not sure how successful this will be because it is smaller than Renee's Garden suggests is the minimum size - 10' x 10', but fingers crossed.
Some of the Native American stories about the three sisters are located at the Bird Clan of East Central Alabama website.