Tucker and his three sisters

Tucker went on a field trip to Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton and brought home some seeds in a small, folded up piece of paper. He didn’t seem to be all that excited about them until I asked him if he wanted to plant them. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” he said, with more enthusiasm than homework usually incites.

With my sabbatical well underway, I was properly equipped and had pots and growing medium ready to go in minutes. When we had everything ready for planting, I asked him what the seeds were going to grow. He told me there were three kinds: corn, squash and beans. “These are the three sisters” he said.

I knew that ‘Three Sisters’ is the name given to the trio of vegetables, and that they have been called that for generations of native people in North America. But Tucker and I have since found out the story behind the name.

A native legend says that there were three sisters who could not get along. Every day they would upset their mother with constant bickering (I sympathize!). Finally in frustration the woman asked the Creator to make them stop, and the three girls were transformed into beans, squash and corn. This made them dependant on one another and so stopped their fighting. The corn would provide a structure for the beans to climb, the beans would enrich the soil with their nitrogen-fixing roots, and the squash would suppress weeds with its large leaves.

These three crops provided a sturdy diet necessary to sustain life in the days before we could just dash off to Loblaws for strawberries in January. They are also a great example of how plants can help each other (have you read the gardening book, “Carrots Love Tomatoes”?).

With all of this research, the seeds Tucker planted so carefully have become even more exciting. So imagine the commotion when he peeked into the pots this morning and found the very first sprout! I had vowed not to plant corn (it’s just asking for trouble from the racoons) but this is just too much fun.

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