A couple of weeks ago I found in a pile of books in a garbage can this one, 'The Mighty Aztecs', by Gene S. Stuart, not so hot in some ways, but excellent in others, like those regarding the wise, organic agriculture practiced by the aboriginals from that country, originally half of what USA is today.
If one considers the healthy gastronomy developed in Mexico, the fact they have conquered USA with it, is evident when looking at Taco Maker the fast food joint to name one.
One thing leads to the other, intelligent agriculture, equals a healthy, pragmatic diet since what is planted is determined by the availability of water, knowledge of soil conditions and weather without a Harvard degree.
Here this brief article for those gardeners interested in the subject and/or improving their own gardening practice with edibles or ornamentals.
Investigating Chinampa Farming
by Virginia Popper
Excellent preservation at CH-AZ-195 provides information
on plant use and farming activities for the two hundred years of
Maize growing on chinampas
How the Aztec Empire fed the burgeoning population of its capital, Tenochtitlan, has
long intrigued researchers. Most of Tenochtitlan’s estimated 150,000 to
200,000 inhabitants at the time of Spanish contact were not food
producers. The system, known as chinampas, of draining swamps and
building up fields in the shallow Basin of Mexico lakebeds, was a
remarkable form of intensive agriculture that Jeffrey Parsons of the
University of Michigan suggests provided one-half to two-thirds of the
food consumed in Tenochtitlan.
At the time of Spanish contact, shallow lakes covered approximately
1000 km2 of the Basin of Mexico. Archaeological surveys show that large
expanses of the lakes were converted into chinampas. Today the lakes are
almost completely drained and covered by urban growth, but a few
pockets of chinampa agriculture survive, including the popular tourist
attraction, the “Floating Gardens of Xochimilco.”
Several ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources describe a range of
building techniques, agricultural practices, and crops grown on
chinampas. In general, chinampas are rectangular fields 2 to 4 m wide
and 20 to 40 m long, surrounded on three or four sides by canals.
Chinampa farmers pile up layers of vegetation and mud or dirt to raise
the field surface to about 1 m above the water level.
This type of construction and the labor-intensive methods of chinampa
agriculture help overcome the main limits to agriculture in the Basin
of Mexico: variable rainfall, frosts, and soil fertility. The proximity
of the field surface to the water table usually provides adequate soil
moisture for crops. If not, irrigation water is readily available in the
canals. The water also ameliorates nighttime temperatures, reducing the
chance of frosts. In the past, soil fertility was maintained by
periodically adding vegetation, household refuse, and organic-rich silt
dredged up from the canals to the field surface. Among their
labor-intensive practices, chinampa farmers plant seeds in specially
prepared seedbeds, later transplanting the seedlings into the fields. In
its most intensive form, cultivation is year–round.
We know little about the origins and development of chinampa
agriculture. Although some researchers suggest that chinampa agriculture
began as early as the Formative period, around 1400 bc, no fields have
been securely dated prior to the Early Aztec/Middle Postclassic period
(ad 1150–1350). In 1981, Jeffrey Parsons directed excavations at several
archaeological sites in the Chalco and Xochimilco lakebeds to explore
the development of chinampa agriculture.
that is that
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