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Irrigating swales and hugels

 
Justin Jones
Posts: 52
Location: Lake Arrowhead, CA
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Out here in Sunny California we don't get much rain in the summer. We have a few large ponds to collect the 100 inches or so of rain that gets dumped on our land during the wet season. I'm trying to figure out the simplest way of transporting that water in storage to the plants (and company) that need it. A supporting infrastructure of pipes pumps and holding tanks already supplies irrigation to the kitchen garden.

I suppose I could just drop a hose into the swale and let it run for a while. Hypothetically the water would distribute fairly evenly across the contour and soak into the base of the mound, where it will be available to get picked up by the deeper plant roots and the hypha network. Does this seem sensible? I'm not sure that the far end of the basin will receive quite as much as the spot right next to the hose. The berms may need to be built slightly off contour (300:1? 500:1?) to adjust for this.

The basin into which water will be delivered also is used for a path. I generally prefer to keep my inter-bed paths mulched or planted over but I'm concerned that too much water will infiltrate straight down. Will clover carpet survive the deluge? Perhaps a cover of sand and gravel, and a compacted soil underneath, is more suitable. Maybe even extend the gravel to the wood of the hugel/heart of the swale.
 
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