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Introducing a new series. Things you were never taught in school about native Americans. I hope to impart some glimpse at false history and have some fun educating people as well. These will most likely be short and scattered randomly. I will do two today because I want to start the series off right. This will be all for today. Until next week!

Fact #22

Beans!

Most commonly eaten beans today, were originally cultivated in the Americas by Native Americans. Beans along with squash and maize formed the “Three Sister (crops)” which were grown by many Pre-Columbian American cultures, tribes, nations, and civilizations.

These were staples of life. They are called sister crops because the native Americans developed ways to protect and enrich the plants by complimenting the soils and needs of the plants involved with other plants. Need an example? Ok if you insist.

In the New World, many tribes would grow beans together with maize (corn), and squash. The corn would not be planted in rows as is done by European agriculture, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to six stalks each.

Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, “bush beans” having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.

Squash would be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, would shade the soil and reduce evaporation, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.

As you can see these crops compliment each other. Both in form and function. They protect each other and provide naturally everything needed for the crops to thrive.

_three sisters

Three sisters garden design. Sometimes pumpkin was added to mix with the squash in the center of the sisters.