If it weren’t for Squanto, our Pilgrim ancestors probably wouldn’t have made it in the New World. Squanto shared his extensive knowledge of hunting and gardening and helped the Pilgrims understand how to use the resources available in America. Learn his organic gardening methods that allowed the Pilgrims to recover from famine and be around for the first Thanksgiving.
Squanto (Tisquantum) was well-traveled and educated, having spent time in England after being captured by Spanish explorers. His gardening expertise included a combination of methods learned in the Americas and abroad, and a main focus of his gardening theory was focusing on keeping the soil healthy to produce healthy plants. Two of the main gardening methods that Squanto taught the Pilgrims were companion planting and organic fertilization.
One of the companion planting methods was known as the Three Sisters, and it allowed for successful gardens of corn, beans and squash. Each of the plants provided something to the others, as well as feeding nutrients back into the soil. This method is best for small-scale gardens, which is exactly what Squanto suggested instead of large communal gardens common in England.
The use of dead fish as fertilizer was an ideal way to feed plants and soil. Fish, which was so plentiful on the New England coast worked so well as a fertilizer because it fed the soil. The calcium from the flesh and bones of the fish raised soil Ph, allowing plants to better absorb nutrients, as well as providing food for beneficialsoil bacteria. Calcium also softened the clay in the soil, making it easier to work. For plants, calcium from decaying fish strengthened plant’s cell walls, making them stronger and resistant to drought and temperature fluctuations.