The other day in my Environmental Studies class, my overly enthusiastic professor told the class about a special group of three plants, known as the Ancient Three Sisters, that, when grown together, actually help each other grow stronger and healthier.
The Sisters — corn, beans and squash — have been grown together by indigenous people for thousands of years, some evidence dating back 10,000 years. Here’s how it works:
Squash acts as a natural mulch, providing shade for the roots of the beans and corn, and keeping weeds away.
Beans have special nodules in their roots that store nitrogen. As the beans grow, the roots release some of the nitrogen into the soil, which any gardener will tell you is a necessary element for a garden to be successful, especially for nitrogen-loving corn plants.
Finally, corn serves as a natural bean pole, which the beans climb up for more sunlight.
Isn’t it amazing how the earth’s organisms interact?
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