February 5, 2022

Swale Update

This week, we got 3 inches of rain, so I thought a swale update was in order.

Our first swale, hand dub, at the top of the garden.

Since my last swale blog post, we've finished digging the length of the swale, but need to finish the bottom. We started that by making a level trench the entire length of the berm side of the swale. 

That seemed an easier way to start than trying to get the entire swale bottom level. The rest of it can be dug down to that, slightly sloping to the trench.

Then came the rain. It poured for two days. The goats and chickens weren't happy about that, but the ducks loved it and we were curious about the swale.

3 inches of rain.

Full! It was pretty exciting to see. As it drains over the next couple of days, we'll have a better idea of how close to level it actually is. We'll make adjustments accordingly.

Swale Update © February 2022 


daisy g said...

Looks like it's working great! I have a mini trench dug out near the chook run to keep the water out of it. Works like a charm.

Leigh said...

Daisy, it is! Very pleased here. And your mini-trench will help hydrate the soil underground - very useful.

Ed said...

I am always amazed when I see that red soil. It just looks like you live somewhere on Mars when compared to the black dirt we are blessed with.

GiantsDanceFarm said...

Looks great! Nice that all that hard work is being rewarded. And I love that you’ve made slight changes to suit your needs.

We are finally living at, but still moving stuff from our other farm to this new one. This “yard” which we’ve both fenced for our dogs, encloses a very, very large area which contains I think 11 apple trees - all of which have 2-3 types of apples on each tree, plus a few pears, many beech, birch and pines. There are many fruit trees in other areas of this place, but we want to protect those inside this first area to protect them from the deer and bears. The evidence of our 4 large dogs helps to a degree, but we’ve seen plenty of evidence of both in the spring pasture area down near the big barn,

The only un-treed area getting enough sun suitable for my garden without removing too many trees to start is fortunately at the south side of the house, but is on a significant slope. The lowest part of the “yard” outside the fence is at a stream which originates at our spring fed pond, then travels through a wooded area to join a river which flows into Lake Huron about 2 miles away.

The water is why we bought this 40 acre mostly wooded property. Well that, the location, and the fact that the house is over 4 times the size of the house at the other farm! If the SHTF we not only have a good well, we have the pond. We’ve already installed a WellConnect geothermal heating and cooling system in the house, but in the next few years as finances allow we’ll add solar and hopefully a wind turbine or two to get pretty much off grid. This summer we hope to modify the small waterfall btw the pond and stream to capture some energy from that. If nothing else maybe we can use that to power lights in the barn and other outbuildings across the stream where the horses and chickens live.

I have some physical challenges, so this spring we’ll just set up my modified hugelkulture trough garden by arranging them in a convenient configuration behind the house, basically using some brinks and cinderblocks to level them, then adding soil under and around them. My eventual plan is to create a swale on the upper sides of the trough rows to give me an area to scoop water from. I’ll plant plants which are bug repellent mixed with elderberry and other things I can keep pruned lower or which keep a low profile.

Your project is a great inspiration and something I can show to my hubby as an example of what I’m trying for. Heck, he thought I was crazy as I filled the bottom of a dozen 100 and 150 gallon leaky livestock tanks I’d collected with partially rotted wood and horse manure compost. He wasn’t thinking that when I was able to do 100% of the planting, care and harvesting of some amazing produce!

Shelley in N. Michigan.

Leigh said...

Ed, ha! Sometimes I feel like it might as well be Mars, lol. I grew up with black soil, so this took some getting used to. I still envy black soil and probably always will. :)

Shelley, your new place sounds fantastic! I'm really happy for you. Sounds like you're already making progress and have really good plans for going forward. I love your experiments too. Please keep us posted!

Sharon Kwilter said...

Swales are an awesome way to reclaim the rainwater. We've loved our rain gardens.

Leigh said...

Sharon, I only wish we'd done this ten years ago!

Nancy In Boise said...

Looks great, lots of iron there. I just love permaculture!!!

Leigh said...

Nancy, me too! Our subsoil is really red, a good indicator of iron!

Kev Alviti said...

This is great to see! I'm the opposite here and want to find ways to get it off the land faster as it lies so wet here in the winter!

Leigh said...

Kev, I have no idea what permaculture would do about that!

Chris said...

Oh the joys of seeing a freshly dug swale, full. I know the feeling! I'm looking forward to seeing how they mature.