Who Were the Three Sisters of Life?
Beans, corn, and squash were one of the most popular companion plantings in early America. Not only were they good companions for planting, but also good nutritional companions.
After the corn was planted and established, beans and squash were planted around alternating rows of corn. The corn provided a stable structure for the beans to grow up and the squash provided ground cover, eliminating weeds, retaining moisture, and the prickly hairs of the vine would deter pests. The beans also provide nitrogen to the soil which corn depleted.
When harvested they provide a balanced diet with the beans providing the necessary ingredients which the body needs to make proteins.
Although corn, beans, and certain squash have more tropical origins there is ample evidence that they had spread throughout native North America hundreds of years before European colonization.
The three sisters plantings are featured on the reverse of the 2009 Sacagawea dollar coin.
Succotash survives in our dictionary from the Narragansett indian word for boiled corn and beans.