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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.

Bean2MagicGarden5These are 10 feet tall sugar snap peas.


The starchy root of the smilax vine, from which the Seminole delicacy of konte is made.


One day's harvest of organic broccoli

One day’s harvest of organic broccoli


The Magic Biochar Garden

The Magic Biochar Garden

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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.



    Richard, the ancient people of Peru had raised gardens as well and had water between their plants rows for fish production . Fish dropping and the soil of the garden canals was recycled and used to increase their crop yield. That type of system might be the answer of how tropical plants were grown in the state of Georgia under the right conditions. Water retains heat to help offset cold conditions over night.
    Clearly you are on the right track connecting the people of Peru, Maya, Itza and their farming technology with the state of Georgia.

    • Mark,
      I knew about the raised gardens, but did not know about the fish tanks between cultivated rows. You know that is an outstanding idea for areas like Louisiana, Mississippi, southern Alabama, southern Georgia and the South Carolina Low Country. Farmsteaders could raise catfish in between crops.
      Thank you sir!


    I used to purchase ceramic glaze material bone ash to use in glaze recipes. Seems like it was source of phosperous. Probably what you produce by burning. The bone ash I do not recall as expensive, might be a resource. I remember the analysis of oriental classic glaze often conained this, but it reverts when fired and cannot determine exact source/amounts. Nice produce.


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