Water is the most important ingredient for successful agriculture in this arid climate. The Ancestral Pueblo people developed a number of farming techniques that conserve water. Pumice (a light, frothy rock that is full of gas) is a major component of the local volcanic tuff. Pumice can act as a sponge, absorbing water and releasing it slowly over time. It was used as mulch to preserve moisture in the soil. Other water-preserving practices included terracing, check dams that slowed water moving across slopes, and waffle or grid gardens. Waffle gardens are constructed by forming small depressions surrounded by a low earthen wall. Seeds are planted within the cavity. The selection of plants was also a good one. Corn is sun-tolerant and grows tall. Beans and squash are less tolerant but grown shorter and can be shaded by the corn plants which also provide support for growing.
Last updated: February 18, 2017