The Ingenious Native American Planting Technique

 | Grace Higgins

Native Americans had a planting technique that was rather genius, learned from having lived and harvested on their lands for generations. It fed their tribes for centuries and ensured there was always enough food to go around, and the technique even earned itself a nickname: The Three Sisters.

By planting corn, bean and squash crops close to each other, they invented a way for the soil and land to become perfectly fertile for each crop. The corn would grow sturdy and high, giving the beans the perfect structure to climb and flourish on. Furthermore, beans are an amazing source of nitrogen. They would provide the soil with nitrogen replenishing it and allowing the corn to grow steadily.

And the squash, it would spread out underground, taking up any remaining space. This was the key to the Three Sister technique, as the squash would grow in such a way that it blocked all other types of weeds or plants that would interfere with the harvest.

This was the wild ways that Iroquois, Cherokee, and other Native American tribes grew their plants: very different from the straight rows that were found in European farms. It was one of the reasons that early colonists struggled to grow enough food to survive, they had to learn different and new techniques to survive in the new land. Another key to the Three Sisters crop group is that eating these three vegetables together provides you with the complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and all eight essential amino acids. This means you are able to survive healthy and well off a completely plant-based diet.

Of course, there is also the bees pollinating the plants, which is why in some regions of America there is another technique called the Four Sisters. Here farmers used another plant called Rocky Mountain bee plant to attract more bees to their farming plantations. This way they were sure to pollinate their plants enough to grow.