Herbs & Plants
Of The Southwest
This is the third of the traditional Native American “Three Sisters”, corn, beans and squash, always grown together in a happy combination garden very different from our modern straight and regimented rows of plants. Native American gardeners in the Southwest, and in Meso- america knew how to plant crops in combinations that benefited each other and repelled pests, but these natural gardens often looked strange to Europeans used to a more ordered and structured way of gardening.
Squash was a staple of Native American diet; both the softer skinned Summer Squash variety that includes zucchini, and the harder shelled, better keeping Winter Squash varieties that include Acorn Squash and our Halloween Pumpkins.
Our word “squash” comes from the Massachusetts Indian word “askutasquash” meaning “eaten raw or uncooked”, which is not, however, the way we prefer to eat our squash today. Contrary to an old gardening superstition, squashes will not cross-pollinate with melons , nor will growing squash near melons, cantaloupe or watermelon make them taste like squash. There are many jokes and folk-legends about the prolific growing habits of zucchini- one or two plants are probably all that are needed for a small family, but it is always tempting to grow more. One of the list of ingredients for a successful zucchini recipe lists paper bags full of zucchini, good running shoes, and a fast get-away car!