THREE SISTERS is a term used by some North American native people to refer to a grouping of plants that work well together: CORN, BEANS, and SQUASH.
In 2006, the three sisters will be planted in Sonoma County in as many locations as are provided by persons volunteering in support of this growing process. All work will be done by volunteers. Food, transportation, music and prayer will accompany all the plantings. Corn, beans and squash produced will be given to volunteers according to their needs, and all surplus will be donated to local charitable food distribution centers.
The intention of the documentation of this process is to provide a simple working knowledge for anyone to grow these basic staples of life. The reason for providing this information is that so few people in the USA have any connection to growing their own food. Farming ancestors are three or more generations in the past. In many other countries, even the city residents have parents or grandparents who worked the land, and could provide survival information for younger generations.
Here’s an outline of how it is done. First, determine the earliest planting date in the area for hard corn, which takes over 100 days to become mature. Some of the corn types are heirloom varieties, and may take nearly another month to finish. Also, some time for the corn to harden and dry in the field is needed.
When the corn stalks have reached an average “waist high” then a single bean of the climbing or “pole” variety is slipped gently into the earth in the “toes” of the corn, so that gophers don’t readily find the seed. In a few weeks more, the bean sprout is climbing the cornstalk as a support, and also “fixing” nitrogen for the corn. This soil enrichment can result in an extra ear of corn for the stalk.
Depending on the soils, and rainfall in the area, winter squash is then planted in the spaces between the corn stalks, and the broad leaves shadow the earth and provide cool moist climate for the roots of all three plants. The squash can be planted from seed if there are not too many weeds, or transplanted in as larger, faster growing plants after cultivation and weed removal in the field of corn and beans. Once the squash begins to vine, no more work is done in the field until harvest.
Another valuable aspect of all three of the sisters is that no special means of saving the food is needed, such as refrigeration, canning, cooking, drying, root cellars, etc. The foods are field dried and then placed in the home until needed. Winter squash can sit happily under the table or on a bookshelf and provide interesting conversation. Beans can wait in jars, and corn can be tied in bunches by the husks and hung on the wall.
SITE MAP will include: History of corn, food values of corn, beans and squash, recipes for preparation, using basics outdoors or a full gourmet kitchen, recommended varieties and where to get them, and lots of pictures.
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