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The Aztecs, Aquaponics and the Creation of Microclimates

In 1325 the Aztecs moved onto an island in the midst of a salt-water lake. It is not exactly prime real estate but in the years that have followed a small village of reed huts has grown into the city of Tenochtitlan. Eventually they will expand the island artificially, trap fresh water during the rainy season, build causeways between the islands and funnel fresh water to the city through an intricate canal system. They will also create "floating gardens" called chinampas (pronounced: chee-NAHM-pahs) an early system of aquaponics. The gardens didn't really float. They were suspended on a web of wattle made of branches and palm fronds attached to birch pylons sunk into the lake mud. The platform is approximately 180 feet long and 9 feet wide. The mud is then dredged up and thrown on top of the platform. Willow trees are planted nearby to stabilize the soil. This creates a microclimate that keeps the gardens at warmer, more stable temperatures during winter months and provides the richest soil possible for the area. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Note that while the lake was salty, it was not a lake all year long. During the dry season the Aztecs were able to block off the salty parts and fill the remaining areas with fresh water during the wet season to support the gardens. By the fifteenth century these gardens will support over 150,000 people in the city of Tenochtitlan. Be sure to check out the links below. They provide some good information on building these floating gardens.

100 Years' War: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

The War of Breton Succession ends here with a victory for the English but it will be a Pyrrhic victory. At the Battle of Auray, both sides finally agree... no quarter is to be given. They want this over with but the French step on their own cape and position a thousand men in a swampy area to the south with no easy way to give ground. It is a slaughter on both sides. Charles of Blois is stabbed by a lance and because of the "no quarter" rule, he is cut down by the sword rather than captured as is the norm. The French break their weapons and surrender. The Duke of Brittany will be Duke John V, the Conqueror... the son of "Fiery Joan". But while the English have been supporting Duke John, he will give his allegiance to the King of France thus turning the English victory into an overall defeat. [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, a "Pyrrhic victory" is where one side wins but at such a cost that it would have probably made more sense to lose because so much was lost for very little gain. Remember that the people fighting this war don't know it will last 100 years. (It will actually last more than 100 years but who's counting?)

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1364, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Crossley, Philip Lawerence. (Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, 1999) The Chinampas of Mexico, Chinampas.info, 2009 [last update] quote="Using data recorded by programmable temperature loggers, the author compares cooling trends, start times and duration of sub-zero temperatures, and the minima recoded above two chinampas over 14 winter nights. These data clearly indicated that during radiation frost conditions, a microclimate develops that is considerably and consistently warmer then [sic] the air above a similarly positioned dry land field."
  2. [Pond Plant Girl]. Build an Aztec Water Garden, Instructables.com, 2014 [last update]
  3. Morris, Tracy S. (A gardener from Fort Smith, Arkansas) The Floating Gardens of Mexico City - InfoBarrel. 2014 [last update]
  4. Van Walen, Katinka. Chinampas: Floating Gardens of the Aztecs, adventure-community.onejungle.com, 2014 [last update]
  5. Urban Agriculture: the Chinampas of Mexico, eatcology.com, 2014 [last update]
  6. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 193. (BOOK) quote="The Aztecs of Mexico build their capital, Tenochtitlan"
  7. Tenochtitlan Facts - Tenochtitlan, tenochtitlanfacts.com, 2012 [last update]
  8. Tenochtitlan - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Aquaponics - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Battle of Auray - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. John V, Duke of Brittany - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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