Saturday, October 6, 2012


 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 occupation

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts