The Aztec people are credited with developing mound gardens, which are also called floating gardens in many areas. This form of gardening was created at least 2000 years ago. Mound gardens are gardens somewhat like a raised bed garden that were planted in marshy wetlands and shallow lakes. The Aztecs had much land that was too wet for growing but they needed the space for crops so developed this type of planting to reclaim the land.
The Aztec garden plots usually measured between 15 and 30 feet wide and often were up to 300 feet long. To stabilize the sides of the garden the mounds were secured using a wattle type fence system and willows were usually planted to prevent erosion. A waddle fence is a fence made of branches that are intertwined to create a sturdy fencing that breathes like a wire fence would but holds back animals and even soil.
The mounds were built on the soil as it sat which was often decaying vegetation and washed in sediment from flooding. This base would act as fertilizer to the soil that was placed on top. The plants would thrive as their roots reached into the nutrient rich soil. Numerous crops could be planted in the same place during the growing season. Maize, beans, squash, and tomatoes thrived in these growing beds for the Aztec people.
One additional advantage of these mound beds were that the top layer of the ground would be dry but the lower layers were moist and the water could be used by the crops cutting down on watering and supplying the much needed water during the hot summer months.
This gardening technique is still used today in many areas and it has been a form of reclaiming land for horticultural used in other countries and in the United States. Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco used this practice particularly in the early years when immigrants were settling these areas.
This form of gardening will always serve a purpose in many countries and is actually very practical. It cuts down on watering and irrigation problems in hot dry areas. It also supplies the nurtients needed for abundant drops with very little additional effort needed once the mound beds are built.