Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Photos: Itza Maya techniques produce 12 feet tall bean stalks
Actually, some of them are 14 feet tall! The instructions on the package of seeds said that these particular beans that were originally from Peru, grew from about 32″ to 36″ tall. Must be the gold in them thar hills!
The little six week old terrace garden that you saw on the History Channel in 2012 is now four times bigger and a heckuva lot more fertile. I continued cutting down trees and brush on the slope here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Large trunks became retaining walls. Smaller trees became charcoal to mix with the soil. Saplings became bean and pea poles. The terraces were cut and filled out of the natural slope with a shovel and mattock.
In addition to the charcoal, I used the same Muskogean gardening techniques that my grandparents used. Organic kitchen refuse is added directly to the soil . . . so are egg shells. I burn any bones in the wood stove and then spread the ashes over the terraces. Terraces that will be growing plants that need potassium and nitrogen get diluted urine.
The photos below were taken in mid-September. The only things growing now in the garden are collards and Fordhook Lima beans.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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