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Possible mix of a hugelkultur raised bed and a swale - Need some insight  RSS feed

 
Benjamin Busch
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'ello!

This is my first post so I want to introduce myself. My name is Ben and I live in Iowa with my kids. I'm just starting out with permaculture and hugelkultur. I'd love some input on an idea I have based upon my knowledge of these processes.

I have limited space so I want to combine the benefits of a swale, a raised bed and hugelkultur. I already have a raised bed in place on a slope (the bed itself is level). The current bed is 8'x 4'. I want to put a swale directly behind the raised bed (higher side) and use the raised bed essentially as the raised section in a typical swale. I don't have another bed yet but the next bed will be identical but will be a hugelkultur raised bed with the bottom half being wooded (see picture).

Would this idea of using the raised bed as the raised section of a typical swale work? I have drawn out a quick diagram below for further clarification.
raisedbed.jpg
[Thumbnail for raisedbed.jpg]
Raised Bed
 
martyn parish
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hello

i'v recently been pondering the very same idea. I think it would work really well, but i suppose the crucial thing would be the relative sizes of Hugel beds and swales, i.e how wet do you want a particular bed to be.

Anyway i'm planning to try it beginning this autumn, so i'l keep you posted. And would be glad to hear how it goes if you get started before me, or if anyone's already tried this.
 
Benjamin Busch
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I dove in and put in the swale. It's very small right now, only 12" wide and 8" deep. The raised bed it's directly behind is 4' wide and about 12" deep. I think I may need to increase the width though so it will match the side of the raised bed. To me this would make the right size as a normal swale would be dug and the dirt would be put to the downhill size making the hole and the lump roughly the same size. Technically, the hump would be a little larger even as you don't pack the dirt when you lay it down.

The perfect size would probably be 4' wide and 2' deep. Also, for the next swale/raised bed I do both the bed and swale a little deeper to allow for the hugelkultur wood to fill the bottom half of the swale and continue directly into the raised bed. This will allow all of the wood to rot together and allow transfer of the water into the wood under the raised bed very very well.

Any one have any thoughts on this?
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I think it is sound concept full of beneficial interactions. I have done a variation on this on very steep slopes under the instruction of Rick Valley back in the 90s... stakes go (slightly off) contour. Wood is piled uphill of stakes and parallel with slope. A bench is dug above the wood with soil piled on top of the wood, and the whole thing seeded. This is similar to the idea of a brush fence or facines in the 'biotechnical erosion control' world. As always, when collecting water in a climate with real rain, you have to consider what you will do with the overflow.
 
George Stone
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Location: South West Iowa
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Benjamin,

Like Martyn, I have been considering something similar. We have a herb patch next to the house at the bottom of a a somewhat steep slope. I was thinking of putting in a hugelculture berm just above it with a swale just above that. We would then expand the herb garden onto the berm. It would make a good starter project for me.

Where in Iowa? We are near Glenwood.
 
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