Aztec Farming

The Impact of Aztec Chinampas on Ancient Aztec Farming

Aztec farming was the primary component of the Aztec economy. Unfortunately, the area where the Aztecs lived was not originally large enough to produce adequate food for the population. As a result, the Aztecs had to be creative when making their land suitable for farming. Through ingenuity and perseverance, these amazing people were able to successfully make the land both workable and valuable.

Reclaiming Land for Aztec Farming

To make the land suitable for agriculture, the Aztecs developed extensive irrigation systems and formed terraces on the hill sides. They even used fertilizer to improve the content of the soil. Aztec chinampas, however, were the most important development in Aztec farming. This technique allowed the Aztecs to reclaim the swampy land that had developed around the lakes. These artificial islands are also often referred to as “floating gardens,” though they do not actually float.

Aztec maize agriculture

Aztec maize agriculture

In order to create the chinampas, the Aztecs dugs canals and piled the mud from the canals onto large mats, which they made from woven reeds. These mats tied to posts in order to be held in place. The Aztecs had driven these posts into the bed of the lake ahead of time. They then planted trees in the corners of the mats to hold them permanently in place. Extensive Aztec farming activities took place on the chinampas, including the growing of squash, corn, flowers, and vegetables for which the climate was ideal.


Ancient Aztec Farming Techniques

The Aztecs did not have beasts of burden to assist with farming. In addition, they did not have large tools such as plows. Therefore, they used pointed sticks to dig holes into the soft soil in order to plant seeds. Aztec farming also employed slash-and-burn techniques, which called for chopping down and burning sections of the forests, then planting in the cleared land.