Meet the Iroquois “three sisters” of gardening: corn, squash, and beans. A long time ago, the Iroquois knew that those vegetables could happily grow together in a single mound. In my upcoming book Three Sisters Garden, they are known as Cara, Sara, and Bari.
The three vegetables are companions that thrive through cooperation: corn is tall and provides the vertical support for climbing beans, and the large leaves of squash planted at the base provide shade for moisture retention and pest control. Today’s gardeners and nutritionists know that these vegetables provide carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins necessary for us to stay healthy. They are fun to plant using this method and delicious to eat. Cara, Sara, and Bari find that out although the sisters aren’t always cooperative!
Upon learning about the Iroquois tradition, I was inspired to interpret it into a modern educational version as a children’s gardening book. Illustrator Casie Trace has beautifully put my words into charming and clever pictures. This will be my seventh children’s gardening book, following this year’s Howie’s Hungabird Dilemma and Color My Garden, a habitat gardening coloring book in both English and Spanish. Three Sisters Garden is supposed to be released before the holidays. I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed.
Gardeners have found that planting these three vegetables together is also a space-saving device. If your gardening space is limited, plant them in a half wine barrel. Or, you could plant them in mounds in a narrow side yard, in a small plot next to a patio, or even in your front yard where you’ve removed some or most of your water-guzzling lawn. You need soil enriched with compost, lots of sun, and access to water.
Yes, vegetables require water, and even though you may be trying to conserve water, vegetables give you something in return that lawn does not: food! You’ll also find that the blooms on the plants will attract bees and butterflies for pollinating–just what we need for a healthy and productive garden! There’s plenty of kid fun and good gardening information on my user-friendly website www.sandybakerwriter.com. My children’s gardening books are available there as well.