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Orchard Design help needed

 
elle sagenev
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Planning on doing swales and berms. So the wind usually blows from the east but occasionally comes from the north. I didn't want to do swales all one way or the other but I'm not sure if this design is feasible. Our land is mostly flat. Starts curving down toward the road and that's where I have the 2 swales that will go with the landscape. The rest is pretty flat for me. So the purple lines are current experimental grape vines. Green block is current food garden. The blue would be where mild retention ponds would go. Our road floods something horrid (I swear my husband is a mole, keeps digging the road). Opinions?? Or I can just continue with the other swales as in option #2

#1
perma culture orchard 1.png
[Thumbnail for perma culture orchard 1.png]
 
elle sagenev
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Option #2
perma culture orchard 2.png
[Thumbnail for perma culture orchard 2.png]
 
Andrew Mateskon
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Fun project!

From my limited experience and knowledge, I would dig swales on contour, even if the land seems perfectly flat, it may not necessarily be. If it actually is perfectly flat, I would dig swales so that they can be flooded by the overflowing ponds when it rains. It may take a few heavy rains to really see how the water interacts with your earthworks, don't be afraid to plant nitrogen-fixing groundcover in the swales even if you know you might move the earth after planting. Slow that water down as much as possible. Plant trees under (downhill from) the swales, not in or on top of them. Let the plant choose where to send roots (into the berm or into the swale or both). If you are digging with machinery - take it slow, take many breaks to consider every move, and blast some good music. If you are digging without machinery - take it slow, take many breaks to keep your energy up, and blast some good music. Enjoy!
 
Cj Sloane
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Andrew Mateskon wrote:...I would dig swales on contour, even if the land seems perfectly flat, it may not necessarily be.


Yes, check it with an A-Frame.
 
elle sagenev
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So far what I've done looks like neither option. lol I just went with the lines while I was digging. Did use a tractor so it didn't take long. Have 2 retention ponds and 2 swales complete. About 2 more of each to go for this part of our property.


So I see you mention not planting ON the berm. Very interesting. I thought that's what I was supposed to do?? I'm confused now.
 
Cj Sloane
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Danielle Venegas wrote:
So I see you mention not planting ON the berm. Very interesting. I thought that's what I was supposed to do?? I'm confused now.


My favorite swale drawing shows planting everywhere! On top of the mound, both sides of the mound, in the swale...
swale-cross-section></a>
 
Andrew Mateskon
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The reply is correct, plant different things everywhere, just don't plant your TREES on the berm.
 
elle sagenev
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Andrew Mateskon wrote:The reply is correct, plant different things everywhere, just don't plant your TREES on the berm.


I need you to explain the thinking there because the pic indicates trees go there and from what I've read they go there. So what's the deal?
 
William James
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Cj Verde wrote:
Andrew Mateskon wrote:...I would dig swales on contour, even if the land seems perfectly flat, it may not necessarily be.


Yes, check it with an A-Frame.


a Bunyip is better if you can can get a water tube...in my experience.
I once wasted an enormous amount of time with an A-frame. A bunyip is almost a transit level in terms of ease of use.
In a day we measured about 400 meters (20 meter water tube) of contour lines for swales and they worked well. Plus you can measure elevation differences with a bunyip.

If you do use an a-frame, I would suggest getting a decently long level as your leveling device and think about getting a tallish a-frame, like 3 meters+ tall (the absurdity of the a-frame!) so that you can cover a decent distance with each pass. Arming yourself with lots of patience for the string, rock, and level-line torture would help if you choose to go sans-level.

I wouldn't advise an a-frame for anything bigger than 100 square meters. It looks like you have more than that.

William
 
Ludger Merkens
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a Bunyip is better if you can can get a water tube

I'm lost, what's a bunyip? I tried google translate english->german, it translates to bunyip - well, i'm sure thats not a german term.
If tried google image search, -> lots of different monsters, but nothing that could replace an A-Frame.
Please help!
 
Burra Maluca
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This might help.

 
Jane Reed
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geoff lawton says over and over that swales are tree-planting systems. So, yes, plant trees on the berms, so that the water that soaks into the ground in the swale ditch charges the ground under the trees.
 
R Scott
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It is not a swale if it is not on contour--it is a mound or a hugelculture (if filled with wood).

That technicality aside, all of them have merits.

If you have a water runoff problem, I would absolutely do swales. If the wind is a bigger problems, building hugels or mounds for windbreaks makes sense. Or a combination of all three.

 
Ludger Merkens
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Thanks!
 
elle sagenev
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We have a water problem and wind. So I did swales.

Next question. I bought a large variety of trees. Should I plant all of 1 kind togetherish. I.E. all apple trees, then pear, then peach, then cherry. That type of thing for fertilization purposes. Or can I just randomly plop them into the ground.

We will be starting an apiary next year so fertilization should hopefully not be a problem.

Yes, I'm aware of guilds and will be planting in them. I just wasn't sure on whether I should put like near like or be random.
 
Andrew Mateskon
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This is all very nitpicky, but here goes. My recommendation for most systems is to plant under the berms so that tree roots are in the water "shadow". As water collects in the swales, hydrostatic pressure pushes water into the ground in all directions, but especially downhill. Planting seedlings on the berms means you will likely need to water the seedlings to establish, until a taproot drives down through the berm to where the swale water is stored in the ground. The exception to this rule is a very boggy system, where the the raised berm would be a benefit. In such a system, I would recommend hugelkultur on contour as your berms.
 
Cj Sloane
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Danielle Venegas wrote:Should I plant all of 1 kind togetherish. I.E. all apple trees, then pear, then peach, then cherry. That type of thing for fertilization purposes.


You should check out the permaculture orchard. It's well worth the $25.

He talks about planting in rows a nitrogen-fixing tree, then an apple, then a pear. Paul did a review and he said he'd vary it even more so no more than 10% of the trees were the same species. You don't want the apples all together because it's too easy for pests to come and stay. If the trees are all mixed up it confuses them.
 
Andrew Mateskon
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Agree with CJ on planting in a "mixed up" way to deter pests getting a foothold. Your local university extension will call you crazy, and ask why you don't plant them all together to maximize pollination. To which we always answer; pollinators, duh. Masons and bumbles are your best buddy bees!
 
Ludger Merkens
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if you are concerned about pollination, perhaps you can throw a crab apple in?
Here is a list of Crab apples as pollinators. (With flowering times - warning data is from australia, but they give the simultanous flowering apple varieties also)

 
elle sagenev
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Andrew Mateskon wrote:Agree with CJ on planting in a "mixed up" way to deter pests getting a foothold. Your local university extension will call you crazy, and ask why you don't plant them all together to maximize pollination. To which we always answer; pollinators, duh. Masons and bumbles are your best buddy bees!


I have total clay soil so my concern would be drainage when it does rain. I know my fruit trees don't like wet roots. I can understand your thinking now though. I'll have to think on this.
 
Cj Sloane
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Danielle Venegas wrote:
I have total clay soil so my concern would be drainage when it does rain. I know my fruit trees don't like wet roots.


If that's your issue, I'd say follow the illustration and plant on the (of course uncompacted) swale mound.
 
Ludger Merkens
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I have no experience with earth work, so treat this as a plain question.

If the earth has a lot of clay and drainage is of concern, why not going slightly of contour, draining the water into the already planned ponds (and storing it there). If there is enough clay in the soil, it is probably easy to get those water tight.
 
elle sagenev
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Ludger Merkens wrote:I have no experience with earth work, so treat this as a plain question.

If the earth has a lot of clay and drainage is of concern, why not going slightly of contour, draining the water into the already planned ponds (and storing it there). If there is enough clay in the soil, it is probably easy to get those water tight.


I tried using our clay for my duck pond and it evaporates too quickly to be efficiently stored.
 
elle sagenev
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MY TREES HAVE ARRIVED!!!

I wasn't able to set a fall delivery because they don't ship to my region in the fall.......for whatever reason. ANyway, so I had to take them when I could get them. They just arrived. Horrid timing though. Big family party tomorrow and tonight will be prep for it. So I can't plant my trees until Saturday. I'm going to hill them and hope they do ok!
 
Rebecca Norman
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Trees delivered in July? That's terrible! Sure, I can understand if they don't deliver in fall, since early spring is always the best time for planting trees in a temperate climate. But July? That's really bad!

I can't watch video from this connection, and need to check some levels, so I wondered what a bunyip was. Google says it's a mythical creature for Aboriginal Australians?

Oh, okay, google "Bunyip" + "water level" and there it is. Thanks!
 
Paul Ewing
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The whole where to plant the trees thing is interesting because all the permaculture folks seem to say do it below the swale berms, but then when I apply the permaculture thing of observing nature, I see differently. In our back fields that were terraced by the CCC back in the 30s and 50s all the volunteer pecan trees are setting right at the tops of the berms. You could say this was some selection bias because the areas between the berms would be cultivated for row crops, but the last time that happened was in the 70s. Since then they have been pastures and most of the trees are 30 years or younger. I am not sure which I will do on the new property across the road, but I might continue the on berm planting on the fields already terraced and with trees in the back of our original property.
 
Cj Sloane
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Paul Ewing wrote:... all the permaculture folks seem to say do it below the swale berms, but then when I apply the permaculture thing of observing nature, I see differently.


The pic I posted shows trees planted on the swale berms and that's what Geoff Lawton say. I think the only exception to the is if the tree prefers wet feet or it's a really dry environment.
 
William James
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Awesome thread.

I'm also perplexed about where to plant the trees in a swale system. I have heavy clay soil too and trees will probably get wet feet no matter where they are planted. Ben Falk's book says that trees like to be on mounds, especially in seasonally inundated land.

So, I'm thinking on top of the berm, unless you're planting Amelanchier, Aronia, Willow, Cranberry, or a whole list of other plants that don't get wet feet.

In dry climates definitely below the berm.

Or you could take the permaculture approach and diversify, planting above the berm, on the berm, and below the berm and let nature sort it out. Get more plants for that trick.

William
 
elle sagenev
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William James wrote:Awesome thread.

I'm also perplexed about where to plant the trees in a swale system. I have heavy clay soil too and trees will probably get wet feet no matter where they are planted. Ben Falk's book says that trees like to be on mounds, especially in seasonally inundated land.

So, I'm thinking on top of the berm, unless you're planting Amelanchier, Aronia, Willow, Cranberry, or a whole list of other plants that don't get wet feet.

In dry climates definitely below the berm.

Or you could take the permaculture approach and diversify, planting above the berm, on the berm, and below the berm and let nature sort it out. Get more plants for that trick.

William


I planted on the top and it's going really well so far!
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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