Midwest SOARRING extends a hearty thank you to everyone who contributed their time and work to make the second annual Comcast Cares Volunteer Work day on April 26th such a success.
Comcast employees and Midwest SOARRING members worked together to cut down a large tree, burn tree branches, pick up the grounds, rototill the garden soil, and build dirt mounds in preparation for planting seeds for a companion garden at the Midwest SOARRING Native American Cultural Center. Everyone enjoyed a hearty lunch on the patio soaking in the warm spring sunshine and the serene setting of the cultural center grounds.
NATIVE AMERICAN COMPANION GARDENING
Native people across the country typically companion garden by planting corn, beans, and squash near one another. The “People of the Longhouse” or Iroquois were the first to call the combination of corn, bean, and squash the 3-sisters. The community or ecosystem formed by these three plants does not rely on plowing but on the beneficial relationship of the plants to one another.
The beans fix nitrogen in the soil for corn and squash. The squash acts as a ground cover to lessen erosion, weeds, and increases the amount of rain that soaks into the soil. The corn provides a sturdy support on which the bean vines can grow.
Midwest SOARRING employs the style of garden used by the Wampanoag people and by other nations east of the Mississippi. The people of the plains and the Southwest use similar style gardens with slight differences because of climate and environment. The corn, bean, and squash chosen are heirloom varieties with ties to the native people who lived in the Midwest and/or around Lake Michigan. None of these vegetables are hybrids or genetically modified.
Thirty 18 inch diameter flat topped mounds which are 3-4 inches high were formed for the corn and beans. The mounds are 4 feet apart from center to center. Between these mounds smaller mounds were formed for the squash. Along the north side of the garden are a line of small mounds for sunflowers that were also included in native gardens. The corn will be planted sometime between May 1st-10th. The beans and squash will be planted when corn is 4-6 inches tall.
A 3-sister garden can be as small as one mound and planted in a half barrel or small square of ground. To learn more about 3-sister gardening refer to the books and websites that are listed below.
Native American Gardening by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruschac
In the Three Sisters Garden by JoAnne Dennee
Native American Gardening- Buffalobird-Woman’s Guide to Traditional Methods by Gilbert Wilson
University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse:
Square Foot Gardens: