Are Mexican Chinampas The Most Productive Agriculture System Ever Devised? They Are A Form Of Raised Beds in Lakes. Check This to Decide For Yourself.

Mexican Chinampas, aka floating gardens, have long history in Mexico and go back to Aztec / Meso-american food growing methods that we’ve almost forgotten. A remnant clings on in Mexico and we would do well to study it as it is regarded by many as being the most productive agriculture/gardening/horticulture system ever devised.

Mexican chinampas

What Are Chinampas?

Chinampas were formed in lakes by dredging the silt from channels and piling it up until a rectangular island had been formed. Never more than 40 metres wide, so water is always nearby and the plants can always access it, they end up being long beds surrounded by what are effectively canals. Sometimes the gardeners erect polytunnels on the chinampas, as this speeds growth even faster.

The edges of the islands were originally formed by weaving together tree branches to form a basket in to which the silt was deposited. In time the “baskets” rooted and trees grew. They stabilised the banks of each island and made for permanence.

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Chinampas Videos

The first video features a Chinampas farmer who explains the techniques and Chinampas culture. Though spoken in Spanish, much of it is easy to understand if you understand horticulture. For the rest of us there is an English text translation. It’s worth a watch in any case as there is so much to learn just from seeing this incredible growing system.

The next two videos are slightly different. One is filmed in Mexico and explains the system very well. The last video is a Canadian interpretation of the Chinampas system, showing an attempt to replicate it in Ontario.

Mexican/Aztec Chinampas Research Sources:

Image Attribution: Emmanuel Eslava, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tag: Mexican Chinampas

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