Swaled Hilltop Forest Garden

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Jonathan Henry, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    Over the past couple years I've been working on a 1/2 acre area on the back slope of my property that will become the forest garden.
    All of the vegetative debris are dropped on contour and then covered with soil from the swale uphill from it.

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    It's been slow going since it's just me with hand tools but it's great exercise digging the swales and it beats a gym membership. More pics and information to follow.
     

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  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Nice work!
    I love the "beats a gym membership" line. How do your swales do during the intense rain events you've had recently?
     
  3. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    They'll fill with water while it's raining but the soil is so sandy it takes very little time to soak in.
     
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  4. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Are you planning to heavily mulch your swales?
     
  5. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    Yes, Mainly through chop and drop. The plan is to cover it all with an inoculated leguminous mix (Sunn Hemp primarily) in the spring. I'm currently throwing rye grass out along the swales & hugel mounds.
     
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  6. Daron Williams

    Daron Williams New Member

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    Looks great! Once you get the foundation of your system in what do you plan to grow in your food forest? I'm curious about what fruit trees / shrubs you are thinking about including.
     
  7. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    Anything and everything I can get my hands on. The more diversity, the better. Off the top of my head I currently have blueberries, blackberries, apples, pears, plums, goji, pomegranate, peaches, figs, and gooseberry. I really should catalogue it all I suppose but I've made sure to at least label all of the plants.

    I got tired of it taking so long to do it by hand so I rented a tractor and was able to get most of the major earthworks done in a day. Still need to fine tune it and it'll never be "complete" since I'll continue to improve and add on as time and money permits.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  8. Wild Apple Farm

    Wild Apple Farm New Member

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    Hi Jon. What were you able to achieve with the rented tractor.. what kind of earthworks did you do with the implements? I see you're using a box blade. Did you use that just for making the road or did it come in handy elsewhere? I've designed my earthworks, but need to find the right tools for the job. As I already own a tractor I'm thinking box blade and grader blade should handle most situations for leveling and swale building. Thoughts?
     
  9. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    I used the front loader to do most of the heavy digging and then went back over it with the box blade to level it out. I was able to cut into the uphill slope and then drop the earth on the downhill slope. I was extremely pleased at how well this process worked out although a mini excavator may have been the more suitable choice of equipment. I am in no way an expert though and the swales are not perfectly on contour in a lot of places but I think it is going to work out very well. We had a good heavy rain later in the week and the swales were able to retain water for several days afterwards. I had to explain the concept of swales to my wife since she couldn't understand why I was so excited for the "pathways" to be filling with rainwater. If I was going to do it all over again I would probably do it the same way I did.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  10. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Hi, If I am not mistaken, you are heading into early spring now.
    How are you getting on with your sowing/plantings?
     
  11. Jonathan Henry

    Jonathan Henry New Member

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    I’ve started to spread some of the legumes as well as plugging in strawberries here and there. I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks so I haven’t done much with it. Should be doing more over the coming weeks.
     
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