Step 1: About the Aztec Water Garden
The Aztec floating garden looks like a floating garden.
In reality, it is a garden that is supported by pylons. This is a drawing I made of an Aztec water garden. It is actually called a Chinampas.
The benefits of growing a Chinampas garden are: they provide shelter for the pond fish against predators, and vegetables grow healthier, and the vegetables yield 7 times more crops.
The next picture is a modern day Chinampas.
Step 2: What You'll Need
2 Cinder Blocks
Soil and Compost
A fish pond
Plants or Seeds
Step 3: Step 1 - Vines and Saplings
Start with grape vines and saplings and build a square frame.
Fasten the cross pieces of the frame with twine twine (I used zip ties).
Layout rows of saplings vertically and tie down.
Weave the vines horizontally across.
Tuck in extra pieces of vine and wrap vines around the edges of the frame.
The picture might appear to look like a tangled mess, but it actually looks much better in person. All this is is a simple crisscross pattern - horizontal / vertical pattern - over under. I used the left over short pieces to fill in a few holes.
Step 4: Step 2 - Palm Fronds
Palm Tree Frawns were used to cover the woven grape vines and tied down with twine. If you do not have access to a palm tree, then banana tree leaves or bird of paradise will work well too. If you do not have access to these, straw is your next option.
Step 5: Step 3 - Cinder Blocks
I used 2 cinder blocks to hold the mat above the water. Cinder blocks will also provide a place for the smaller fish to hide. A traditional Aztec garden, however, uses steaks or pylons driven down into the muddy water below.
Step 6: Step 4 - Adding Compost and Plants
Add a layer of cured compost on top of the chinampas and plant your seeds or plants. It's okay if a little compost falls into the water. I planted mint and parsley in this garden. When it takes off, the entire platform will be covered. See my little fishy statue? I put it there for decoration.
This garden is 3 foot square. I want to make an Aztec garden with straw instead of palm fronds. If I built another garden, I would make an edge around the sides to keep the soil boxed in. The traditional Aztec garden, however, is flat and much larger than this one. Instead of using the hemp twine, I would use a hemp net that I saw in the garden center.
See the plastic and PVC pipe in the picture? This is the cold frame that I made to keep the pond safe from frost... which is another one of my instructables.
Please see more of my how-to's and videos at www.pondplantgirl.com/howto.htm