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Hugelkultur , swales and berms

 
steward
Posts: 1748
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Seeking advice - I see the mounds , swales and berms being used to capture water in dry country . I am planting fruit trees on south facing slope , about 30 degrees. We get alot of rain 40-50 inches and the bottom of the slope will stay very wet during spring as the water seeps from above , maybe too wet for tree roots. Would any of these techniques be good for regulating the flow of the water more gradually and allow for less muck at the bottom of slope ? We do have dry time in summer and fall - I can see their benifits then . Any experiences with this ? Thank you
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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wayne stephen wrote:Would any of these techniques be good for regulating the flow of the water more gradually and allow for less muck at the bottom of slope ?



That's exactly what they're for.

There are lots of good illustrations in Bill Mollison's permaculture books about how to capture water going down a slope. This is one that floats around the web:
swale-cross-section></a>
But there are better illustrations for setting up multiple swales.

If you can turn that mound in to a hugelkultur, all the better
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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That illustration looks exactly like what you need. Indeed, if the berm was a hugelkulture mound, you would be keeping each level's rainfall on its level, rather than having it all pool at the bottom of the slope.

A 30 degree slope, even with heavy ground cover would send a lot of water to the bottom without some earthworks along the slope. If done properly, each elevation would be improved...especially the bottom, where, as you said, the soil would probably be too wet for most roots.

Each year, during the dry season, you could store your trimmings in the swales, and have a ready supply of compost at each tier.

 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1748
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Thanks for the replys - I am considering hugel-berms . Lots of downed wood here. I recently read a reply that stated the wood in hugelbeds does not supply many nutrients. Seems counter-intuitive. People spread wood ashes here for the micronutrients and ph adjustment / calcium. The fruit trees I mulch with tree debris thrive. I plan on planting fruit tree guilds below berms . thanks again
 
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