The picture on page 58 of Gaia's Garden is great. I love the food forest and keyhole beds layout. I also like the ideas in Chapter 10 for growing a food forest. The pictures show a progression. Where I run into confusion is assimilating the idea of swales in Chapter 5 with all the other stuff in the book. It seems like swales are mentioned in Chapter 5 and then never talked about again.
If I integrate swales to slow the water off my 1/4 acre lot and integrate a suntrap system, how do the swales come into play? Do they just run through the system with trees and shrubs and keyhole beds just planted where they symmetrically lie? Or should all the suntrap components be planted or designed on contour?
I don't know if this is really an answer to your question, but on my 1/4 acre lot I am creating the swales first. Then I'm planting on the berms and structuring everything around that swale shape in the land.
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You could try basins which are just depressions in the earth, more rounded or whatever shape fits the space, not necessarily the long shape of swales. That might be easier to deal with in a smaller space.
The swales are oriented to the contour, the suntrap is oriented to the sun. The planting of the trees is contingent upon the swales so you will have to superimpose the suntrap map on top of the swale map.
"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Isaac Hill wrote:The swales are oriented to the contour, the suntrap is oriented to the sun. The planting of the trees is contingent upon the swales so you will have to superimpose the suntrap map on top of the swale map.