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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 14:04 EDT

Three Sisters

Three Sisters crop is a technique of gardening used primarily by Native Americans, but gardeners of any kind may also use this technique. These crops use three types of plants; in the Tewa tribe, they use four.

The traditional seeds used are corn, beans, and squash. There are many benefits from this method, the first being the use of the corn stalks for the beans to grow on. The beans themselves then provide nitrogen for the corn and squash, while giving the corn amino acids, lysine, and tryptophan. The squash gives several different qualities to this triad of growth. Squash grows along the ground thus protecting the crop from the development of weeds. The vines of the squash are prickly, therefore deterring pests, while the leaves provide mulch to help keep in moisture.

The Tewa tribe uses a fourth plant, called the Rocky Mountain bee plant. This plant attracts the bees to the crop that helps to pollinate the other plants involved in the group.

Image Caption: Three Sisters as featured on the reverse of the 2009 Native American U.S. dollar coin. 2009 reverse by Norman E. Nemeth. Credit: Wikipedia

Three Sisters