Monday, April 2, 2012

My Hypothesis...

When I was turning up the soil the other day with the mighty pick-ax, I found a couple pieces of glass, discarded trip irrigation tubes, some screws and nails along with some pieces of asphalt shingling. I thought to myself "I bet the Hohokam didn't accidentally dig up pieces of asphalt shingling." I also then thought to myself "I bet the Hohokam didn't have full time jobs and were full time students while they were farming too." Well, I shouldn't say that they didn't have anything else to do besides farm, I am sure the tribes people carried multiple roles, such as farmers, teachers, defenders, parents and all the vital roles that can be found in any society over time. But I can't help but think that they were able to a lot more time and focus to cultivating the land, whereas most people now roll up to the grocery store, plunk down some cash for groceries for the week (be it themselves and/or their families), and stick it in the fridge when they get home....I bet the Hohokam didn't have a fridge when they got home.

 I went to the Phoenix public library to check up on some Hohokam history.They had a special room called "The Arizona Room" which housed a treasure trove of original AZ artifacts. There were a few restrictions though. I was condensed to about 45 minutes worth of research (by my own schedule) and I was not allowed to take anything out nor write anything down (all AZ archives had to stay in that room and no pens were allowed...I didn't have a pencil). I pulled a few pieces off the shelves and kept getting more and more information about the canal system that was unearthed around Sky Harbor International Airport, which is all of a 8 minute drive from my house. What I wanted to find was specific plants and planting methods that the tribe used for the spring, which is when I intend to plant. I didn't find anything. I left the library a little dejected, thinking what the heck did they do, and when the heck am I going to be able to get back to the library to research this stuff with still not having found the time to plant.

 So for my hypothesis. Thinking about those asphalt pieces I am thinking that the urban planting methods will be better. I've come to this immediate expectation because this soil has been subject to well over a century of urban development, has had a variety of things done to it, and is going to be affected by the inability of a busy dude to tend to the plants every need at any given day...I've got four wedding weekends coming up out of town, which is when I get to actually play in the garden. I've got the plant species picked out (corn, summer squash, garden beans and Tepary Beans) which were mentioned on a variety of websites and the PHX garden magazine for both native and modern planting. I believe that trying to incorporate more native methods (if I ever find them) of how to plant won't do well in modern urban farming. The surrounding vegetation is different, the soil is different, the inputs will inevitable be different. And to remind the reader, the purpose isn't to recreate the environment of the Hohokam tribe at the time, it is just to see if there methods would work in an urban setting with an urban farmer with an urban lifestyle. With the very wide, wide, wide range of variables and ill-kept controls... I simply don't see how traditional ecological knowledge will prevail here in comparison to urban methods. I am not discounting that the crops won't grow at all, but I think that the land has been changed so much and my deficiencies as a farmer won't be able to support what successful TEK implementation demands.

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