Three Sisters and a Stranger


| 9/18/2017 9:48:00 AM


Connie MooreSometimes I wonder about me. It seems the older I get, the less I see clearly. I’m talking about in my mind’s eye. There in draws a blank sometimes that’s a bit scary.

Take for instance the Three Sisters garden plot I planted this spring. In many cultures, three crops were and are planted together: corn, beans and squash. Corn provides the structure for the beans to climb; squash spreads over the ground, preventing weed growth, and large squash leaves act as a canopy to hold moisture in the soil; and the beans provide nitrogen, which is good for all three plants. Together the three crops provide complex carbohydrates, all essential amino acids, and other nutrients. It’s a win-win way to garden.

In our Three Sisters garden, pole beans went in first, climbing on strings, which were anchored around them and up through the 6-foot high bird feeder. Planted at the north and south points of our circular bed they neatly divided the space in half for buttercup squash and sweet corn. 

Then, in mid-July, green shoots starting coming up in the corn half. At first we thought it was just corn that dawdled around, waiting for more water or more sun. It grew much like the rest of the corn, perhaps not quite as fast but certainly the same thick, round stalk, the same long, thin leaves, and later, the same tight ear of…wait…that ear was coming out of the top of the plant.

safron



What could it be? We watched and contemplated for days. By then my brain had registered a stranger in the garden. We took photos to examine it in closer range. We called relatives, only to be told it was probably sorghum. What? Sorghum was the means to molasses. We planted no seeds marked sorghum or molasses or sweet, tasty anything. Where did this stranger come from?