The northern Maya Lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula are often characterized by outside observers as a challenging environment for agriculturalists. The limestone bedrock appears to have only a patchy cover of thin soil, yet the Maya inhabitants, both ancient and modern, have managed to successfully cultivate this landscape through a variety innovative techniques and micro-scale adaptations. Homegardens have a long history in the region, and continue today to provide most of the diversity in the Maya diet. Adaptation of Maya homegardeners to the thin soil of the northern peninsula may best be described as container gardening, in which natural cavities in the limestone bedrock serve as planters. The deep, vertical A-horizons of the bedrock cavities are not recognized in regional characterization of the soil, yet they may represent the primary soil resource for homegarden adaptation in portions of the northern Maya Lowlands.
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