What is chinampas growing method?

We have already spoken in Gardenprue de las Chinampas and we wanted to return to the article for those who do not know it.

If you are one of those who had never heard of this form of agriculture, I recommend that you delve into the Aztec world and discover this peculiar and effective way of making “gardens”. The chinampas.



Today I am going to discuss a form of cultivation that I had in mind to talk about for some time. I learned about this technique on a trip to Mexico that I did almost 3 years ago. I spent a month touring the northern half of the country until I reached Mexico City.

Inside the anthropological museum we were able to see, taste and discover many of the pre-Columbian civilizations and cultures. Aztecs, Mayas, Toltecs … an endless number of them.

Unfortunately, the dreaded “Moctezuma’s revenge” reached my gut, leaving me to be dragged down with a salmonella that lasted for a fantastic little week. Between that and the time we had, I had no opportunity to visit Xochimilco.

A redoubt happily stagnant in history, apart from the great skyscrapers, located in the southeast of the capital that still preserves the chinampas method as a form of agriculture.

Lake Xochimilco, which gives its name to this delegation of Mexico City, is full of navigable channels through which to have a fantastic time. A little pre-Columbian Venice.


Chinampa is, as I have already advanced, an agricultural method created by the Toltecs of the Valley of Mexico. Apart from being an agricultural technique, it also had the purpose of territorial expansion.

They were gaining ground from the lake by creating new surface. I had a teacher in my career who told me: Agriculture does not have good soil today. “They will pay you to make soil.”

Well, these people a few years ago (specifically 10th – 12th centuries) already created soil.

The chinampa is basically a large raft with soil that floats in the lake , on which numerous vegetables, flowers and other crops are grown.

It is a system of agriculture in wetlands or marshy areas. It seems a lie, right?

These rafts are manufactured from logs of considerable size, some of them, to make a consistent surface. On this surface, mud and plant materials are incorporated, whether they are harvest remains or leftovers, leaves … in short, any type of plant material that decomposes over time.

Willows were used to be planted, riverside trees where they exist, which as they grew, took root at the bottom, making the chinampa a stable surface.

To those of you who are regular readers of the blog, does this sound like something to you? These people made giant composters on which they grew! The consequence of this technique is a soil of unequaled fertility, with innumerable cultivation possibilities.

In fact, it was what allowed to sustain the civilizations of the Valley of Mexico for centuries. Today, Xochimilco is the (very touristy) place that keeps this cultivation technique alive, but imagine what it would be like to see all of Mexico City – Tenochtitlán structured and channeled by this technique.

We must think that this method was what allowed, among other things, the development of these civilizations, allowing a sustainable, fertile and productive cultivation system in the same place of settlement.

Of course, unfortunately we are not going to be able to put this method into practice in our garden, but it would be fine right?

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