Swale system on a stony hillside

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by growurfood, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    [​IMG] Swale passes just downslope of planned food forest.[​IMG]
    And downslope of horse corral, which is being converted to Mandala garden.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
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  2. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Nice water-holding there.

    Is the water being harvested for something, or to something?

    Looks like, in the first picture, it busted up a lot of roots on the existing trees. Are they planned for replacement as part of your conversion to food forest?
     
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  3. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Damn, that's how a swale works! Good job.
     
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  4. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Thanks, the swale does hold the water better than I expected. It has been full for about two weeks now with the storms that've been coming through repeatedly. (I'm three hrs west of houston tx).

    So the plan is to dig a low pond soon to collect all this flashflood rainwater. But you're right, despite being careful with the excavator, some Ashe juniper roots were torn out when we dug the swale through the woods. But the trees seem to have survived the trauma.

    On a sidenote, cedar's great--although most here dislike it due to ignorance. Its berries are great medicine, it's leaves + water makes an antiseptic water and you can even wash your dishes in cedar water.

    And there are many more cedar seedlings volunteering on the farm. Right now I have foster hens raising ducklings on the swale system. Nothin but fun!
     
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  5. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Thanks! It feels great to see all that rainwater being absorbed into the soil. The ducklings definitely approve of their new swimming strip.
     
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  6. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    [​IMG]
    Life evolutions on the swale system. (Mosquito and fly hunters in training)
     
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  7. JACQ

    JACQ New Member

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    Thanks for posting, thats a really nice swale... cant wait to get stuck into mine .. good job! And the ducklings look like they r having the time of their life! Happy days
     
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  8. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Thanks! They sure are. Once you get your swale in, you'll notice an increase in winged visitors...
     
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  9. Fred

    Fred New Member

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    Looks fine, altough I'm missing plants on the swale berm, trees as best choice.
    From my understandig they are supposed to increase water infiltration.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  10. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    True, it really does need the trees and vegetation so that the soil doesn't become waterlogged. I'm saving up $$ to order soil brought in so we can cover the stone swale, then revegetate the whole mound with native leguminous shrubs and bushes, then fruit trees. It's a work in progress...
     
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  11. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Here's a quick update:
    Yesterday's flash flood dropped about 11 inches in 4-6 hrs. Both our swales filled to capacity and spilled over. And the ducklings have grown up and are lovin it!
     
  12. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Hey jacq, here an update:
    Yesterday's flash flood filled both our swales in under 6 hrs!! Unbelievable amount of water in such a short period. But we filled the swales and the ducklings have grown up, they're lovin it right now.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Grace Pignatello

    Grace Pignatello Member

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    Would it be possible to throw seed such as oats, on the swale? (I get whole oats from a seed store and toss the seeds in season.) Sourgum works really well too. Because of the rocks you shouldn't need to cover the seeds because they will fall between the rocks and grow. But I understand things can wait and a person can only do so much. I love the work you have done! Your site has encouraged me. I live in the desert and plan to get some land. It will be a lot like yours and I won't be able to do much but build swells, dams, and some digging by shovel. I am in an urban environment now and working on my place. I was just looking at small breeds of ducks to help me out. Thanks for sharing with us!
     
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  14. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Thanks Grace! Funny you mention the oats, I was just thinking that today, and about broadcasting upland rice into the swale ditch too, alternating with barley, Fukuoka style.

    That's a great visual about the seeds falling in the cracks between the rocks. Love that. I'll be scattering sorghum and oats this week! Could also order in some ancient barley varieties to improve the diversity around here.

    Right now I have muscovies and khaki campbell ducks. The muscovies are much quieter, they don't quack, only whistle. The khaki campbells QUACK!

    I'm going to bring in Cayuga and Indian runners sometime in the future with my hens as foster mothers. The geese might have to wait till the pond is finished...
     
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  15. Grace Pignatello

    Grace Pignatello Member

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    Of course! We always have so much to do!
    The Fukuoka style is a wonderful perspective. I have found it very helpful to cut the grass at least once when it is young. It makes the stalk so much stronger. It may be difficult with your space and the rocks though. I have found it best to do the grass first. Once it sprouts, toss the other seeds in. This helps distract the birds from eating your more expensive seeds. I am beginning to look into bamboo seeds. So far they are hard to find and I don't know anything about it.

    Very good to know about the noise for the ducks. I grew up with Australian Spotted ducks. They are a small breed, great egg layers, I don't remember them being to loud, great personalities, very broody, good mothers, and they will sit on 12 eggs. They were also great in the gardens and didn't destroy things.
     
  16. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Here's a quick update:

    So I've decided to cover the swale mound with wood chips and mulch because it'll be much easier (not so much $$$) to bring in the large quantities needed; I can get these almost free from the city. So the plan is:
    1. We'll cover the swale mound of stones and rocks with wood chips and mulch.
    2. Then add composted horse manure and a variety of seeds and cover it with jute material to discourage the free range chickens from eating every single last seed.
    3. The finish will be with quality topsoil in specific pockets, in areas where fruit trees and other varieties are going to be planted.
    4. Vetiver grass slips will be planted on the downslope side of the swale mound, to "stitch" the jute material to the Soil.
    Equipment rental:
    • bobcat with large bucket
    • dump trailer, to bring in wood mulch/chips
     
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  17. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Would using clay balls be of any use to you in seeding your swales?
     
  18. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Yes I think they would. Thanks for reminding me. I'll definitely put that into action.

    Since spring began (early again), some pioneering species have begun to cover the rocky swale, and I'm transplanting Mediterranean herbs between them, using the pioneers as nurse plants. I'll follow up with some pics soon...
     
  19. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    We'll now that I have the KC ducks free ranging, they're not nearly as loud as before, I think they were just trying to get my attention so I'd let them out of their area and into the free range areas. I'd definitely get more if i could!

    So the main difference between the muscovies and the khaki campbells is that the muscovies fly very well. They'll get into the trees for safety. The KCs will need more protection because they don't roost up high.

    The downside to this is that the muscovies can get anywhere and poop. The KCS are easier to keep in a specific area.

    But I love them both.
     
  20. growurfood

    growurfood New Member

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    Btw, which bamboo varieties are you thinking about? It's funny, I've also been looking into bamboo. I've found some varieties for Texas that will do well. Blue bamboo (bambusa chungii) and fargesia nítida is another, then there's always the giant timber bamboo...
     

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