Saturday, June 6, 2015

Seedy Saturday- The Three Sisters

Happy Saturday everyone!   This week for Seedy Saturday, I will be sharing a bit of information about the 3 Sisters.  You may be wondering what I mean by this, as I am supposed to be telling you about plants, and if you’re like me you automatically think humans.  Well my friends, there is a crop that can be planted which contains 3 different species that can use the others for support, just like real sisters!  This is called the 3 sisters crop and the trio is made up of corn, beans and squash.  The corn provides structure for the beans to climb, therefore no support poles are needed, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil for the other plants and the squash spreads along the ground, preventing sunlight from feeding the weeds.  And this is what we now have planted in our orchard garden!

These three vegetables were the nutritious primary foods of the Native Americans for centuries.  Corn is planted first followed by the beans and lastly squash.  Corn originally comes from Southern Mexico and is descended from a wild grass called teosinte.  There are 5 major types: flour corn (mostly starchy when ripe), dent corn (each kernel has a dent in it and is used mostly for livestock), flint corn (also known as Indian corn has very large kernels), pop corn (a favourite for snacking on and one of the earliest cultivated types) and then there is sweet corn (what we wait for in midsummer, because it is delicious to eat)!

Beans are native to the Americas and there are a variety of kinds.  They include: pole beans (which have longer vines and need support to grow), bush beans (which have no poles and need no support), and snap beans (which are eaten in the green pod stage).  Older varieties of snap beans were often string beans, because they have a “string” where 2 halves of the pod came together.  Yellow snap beans are called wax beans and shell beans are picked in the green shell stage, when pods are past the snap stage, but before they start to dry.  During the time of the Backus family, many beans were dried to use throughout the winter in soups.

And our youngest sister, squash, is also native to our area of the world.  There is summer squash, which is harvested when the fruit is young and tender and winter squash, which is harvested when it’s hardened.  Butternut squash is a good keeper throughout the winter and can be used for pies and cakes.  Mmmm yummy! 

Until next week,

Catie Welch

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