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What To Do?

 
Posts: 270
Location: 1 Hour Northeast Of Dallas
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I feel like I'm a bit at a stand still now. I live in East Texas on pretty flat land. We've had some rough droughts in the last few years and so before I start planting anything I want to get the water situation under control. I had initially planned to put in some swales but I've been advised that due to the fact that my land is flat they wouldn't be much use. We get good rainfall during the spring, but the summer is my main concern, so I'm hoping to find a way to store the spring's rain water in the soil to carry us through the summer, but now I don't know what to do. What are my options?
 
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Bury lots of biomass. Hugelkultur may be your only way to store up soil moisture in advance of another long dry spell. That and having enough mulch on the surface to cut down evaporation from any bare dirt.
 
Brandon Greer
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John Elliott wrote:Bury lots of biomass. Hugelkultur may be your only way to store up soil moisture in advance of another long dry spell. That and having enough mulch on the surface to cut down evaporation from any bare dirt.



Hugelkultur has been of interest to me for awhile. My only concern is how long before the wood under the mound breaks down and loses it water retention properties. Having to rebuild the mound would be a lot of work especially since I plan to eventually have a food forest there in the end.
 
John Elliott
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Years, decades even. Are there fallen trees in your area, maybe on a wooded piece of land that development has missed? You may drive by them every day and not notice the changes from season to season. But they are slowly decomposing, feeding the soil under them. You really don't "rebuild" the mound, because as it ages, you just keep throwing more mulch on top. If becomes like an old growth forest, where the continual fall of biomass from above keeps the cycle going year after year.
 
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Location: Westfield, IN
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Hugelculture....and with proper layout in the design, those raised beds create the swells to direct the water anywhere you desire. It is a lot of work but worth every drop of sweat. If you don't have easy access to trees, get in contact with a local tree trimming service. They might just be happy to make a donation. Just be sure to get woods that don't change your soil ph from what is suitable for the type plants you wanna grow.
 
Brandon Greer
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Well I should have no problem finding the trees for such an undertaking being that 80% of my property is wooded. I only hope that Eastern Red Cedar would make a good fill. What would you guys think about maybe maybe a tiny swale in front of the hugel beds? Would that have any purpose?

I'm also thinking about taking all the rain water off of my road which leads into my property and grade the drainage ditch off of my road back into my property and distribute it throughout my garden with a network of level trenches.

I was kinda into the idea of swales (or level trenches) if for nothing else to distribute the water. For example drain a gutter downspout into a level trench which would then fill a network of trenches throughout the nearby areas. Any thoughts on this?
 
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Location: Málaga, Spain
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I don't know how flat your land is, but I doubt it's completly level. So you could possibly build some one rock dams acros the natural watersheds.
 
John Elliott
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Brandon Griffin wrote:Well I should have no problem finding the trees for such an undertaking being that 80% of my property is wooded. I only hope that Eastern Red Cedar would make a good fill. What would you guys think about maybe maybe a tiny swale in front of the hugel beds? Would that have any purpose?



Cedar is not really good fill for a hugelbed. That's because it takes a long, long time to decompose. If you have an abundance of it, you can put it in the hugelbed, but try to have 3 or 4 times as much pine or oak or other easily decomposed wood in with it.
 
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Location: Fennville MI
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Brandon Griffin wrote:Well I should have no problem finding the trees for such an undertaking being that 80% of my property is wooded. I only hope that Eastern Red Cedar would make a good fill. What would you guys think about maybe maybe a tiny swale in front of the hugel beds? Would that have any purpose?

I'm also thinking about taking all the rain water off of my road which leads into my property and grade the drainage ditch off of my road back into my property and distribute it throughout my garden with a network of level trenches.

I was kinda into the idea of swales (or level trenches) if for nothing else to distribute the water. For example drain a gutter downspout into a level trench which would then fill a network of trenches throughout the nearby areas. Any thoughts on this?



Brandon, I just watched a Geoff Lawton video the other day where he was talking about capturing the road runoff and redirecting it back into the property for use - Exactly the kind of thing you are talking about. I would say that suggests it is good thinking

As someone has already noted, it's unusual for a parcel of land to be truly level, so figuring out what slope there may be - however small - and what direction it tends, is likely worth your effort. After all, if the water is not running off in some direction, then you don't need to capture it in the sense that swales, or ponds, do.

In the case where the water really does not run off your land, then to hold it in you need to minimize evaporation and maximize the soil's ability to hold it, rather than letting it flow away underground.

So, loads of organic material worked into the ground to hold water in place, thick mulch and ground cover plants to minimize evaporation, maybe some hedgerows or hugelbeds to provide windbreaks and again reduce evaporation.

 
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