No the low spot it is headed for is a bit of a bowl. By the time it fills up to find a path to drain the water is already into the lower edge of the garden If the inflow continues the whole garden goes under to a depth of 2 to 6 inches. I can get the water to go down faster by pumping it over the E-W ridge into my pond but that only shortens the submersion time and does not eliminate it. The best I could do would be to build a berm all the way around the garden and then make a diversion chanel that would re-route the water around the garden. My hope is that the swales will hold enough water that the low spot does not fill up until it floods the garden When the garden is 2 inches under the low spot is more like 4 feet under water if not more.
Tyler Ludens wrote:Welcome to permies!....... - do you have an overflow route which avoids the garden area?
I thought about doing that but was not sure how photos are posted here and what the size limits are, let's see what I can come up with. If I do not run into size limits either pixels or file size this ought to make it. All the red dots show the trails I have cut through the woods. The N-S ridge approximately follows the line of the "cross-fence" show in white. The E-W ridge comes from the road (east boundary) between the pond and house up to the gate in the middle of the cross-fence and from there on west to just south of the large clearing.
Tyler Ludens wrote:Is it possible for you to post a satellite view of the land so we can get a better idea of the features?
I would love to have orchard type trees planted there. I cannot grow grapes or apples where the previous owners planted them because that close to the pond during the fruiting season there are so many humid mornings during fruiting tha mold and fungi devastate those crops, and cedar trees are so common here that cedar-apple gall runs rampant. Peach and cherry do well but the birds go after the cherries with a vengence and there is an insect pest that stings the peaches and implants a grub that wastes more than half the harvest and virtually all the fruit is damaged. So that will require careful selection
Rene Nijstad wrote: Swales are not just water and erosion control systems, they are mainly tree growing systems, do you want trees in that part of the property?
Digging out the bowl to increase its capacity is plausible but if I can cut down on the runoff that alone may be sufficient. As for making a pond,
Rene Nijstad wrote:- maybe the bowl you describe can be dug out deeper and turned into a pond that holds enough water. Maybe you could dig a swale connected with it that can overflow excess water on the other side of the ridge?
That is not particularly practical because
Rene Nijstad wrote: - maybe a diversion swale around the garden can also overflow on the other side of the ridge if you could dig it all around it.
- how about raised garden beds, could that maybe help?
That would require raised beds that were thigh high at least. If I can trap the water on the grassy field I suspect it would be the easier fix, and give me more productive area.
Rene Nijstad wrote: - how about raised garden beds, could that maybe help?
Well since I am retired but still living an active life, that is not such a bad deal. And if I can leave this property in better condition than I got it that is satisfying and may actually get it to sell for more so that my inheritance will be bigger for my children. Since I have the tractor and implements, part of my original post was to seek how to best exploith those assets in the swale building project. It would keep me busy and be a fun, interesting, and rewarding thing to accomplish. Not having done this before, I figure that by describing my situation I might get some advice that will keep me from having to "re-invent the wheel" and on the other hand if I take enough pictures I might come up with some innovations others can use. I got a good fuel efficient tractor at a reasonable price (A Ford 1510 built in Japan by Shubaro) and put new tires on it. The tiller was a little pricey but for working in this kind of soil and incorporating organic material is unsurpassed (so far as I know) I built the subsoil plow from a scrapped out "bucket mount Bale Spike (for round bales) And I got the grader blade cheap (they are relatively inexpensive used around here)
Rene Nijstad wrote: Digging the swale you describe in your opening post sounds like a lot of work.
That thought has crossed my mind. Had I realized that that piece of land could flood from runoff i would not have put it where it is It is only 30'x30' presently and I have higher ground nearby. I have several years involved in improving the soil and I would hate to abandon that and it would not be out of the question to borrow the neighbor's implement that scoops up soil behind the tractor and then dumps it where you want when you pull the release. Then i could grade it out smooth with the grader blade. Alternatively I could just establish a new garden farther up the grade. However that approach would not give me any improvement to the surrounding ground. So if the swales will give me enough relief from the occasional flooding of the garden then that would be the best option . I am also considering a diversion around the garden in case the swales could not handle all the water in a wet year. Just a 30% to 40% reduction in the water that can reach the 'bowl" should be more than enough to correct the problem so overflow spillways in the berms would be allowable.
Rene Nijstad wrote:- maybe your garden is simply in a too complicated place and the whole area there could be a pond instead. Could you move your garden closer to the house, higher on your property instead?
Rene Nijstad wrote:Don, did you see this? http://permaculturenews.org/2015/08/07/rapidly-cut-swales-with-tractor-blade/
Actually my first attempt at a garden was there for about 2 years but the soil there is some of the worst I have, I believe that it may have been scraped off at the time the house was built for fill around the house and for a berm on the north sice of the pond to prevent high water from flooding the yard. or overflowing into the 'bowl" My reason for moving the garden to its present location was twofold. The soil at the present location is WAY BETTER there as it is aluvium that has washed in there over the years and is far richer and way deeper. The second reason is that of privacy, I am a naturist and I often garden naked. Up by the house lacks privacy from passing traffic on the road, and the soil is so poor along the road that my bamboo groves there are slow growing and do no yet provide full screening after several years. The lush growth of the bamboo seen in the second picture is due in part to the much better soil behind the house..
Rene Nijstad wrote:Having seen the pictures now, I would definitely move the garden, mainly to put it closer to the house for convenience
Alas the water is pretty useless there. It would serve much better if it stayed on the grassy field up the slope. That is the one area I have that is ventillated well enough that fruit trees or vines might stand a reasonable chance against the fungi that attack fruit trees and vines around the house. Also any water in the "Bowl" is soon lost as it apparantly does percolate several feet down until it gets to the limestone substrate and rabidly escapes into fissures in the rock. By some weird quirk the soil in this part of the state does not percolate well enough to allow for a typical drain field and for that reason sewage lagoons are quite common (they are ecologically more sound anyway!) But in areas subjected to flooding like my "bowl" once innundated they will percolate and for example that entire bowl of water disappeared in 7 ti0 10 days. For situations like my pond it apparantly takes a bit of expertise to get the clay just right so that the pond "seals" and holds water. As I say the water would serve me better if I could keep it on the grassy field which is why the permiculture swale approach appears so attractive to me.
Rene Nijstad wrote:..... but also because of the size of that bowl in your landscape and the huge amount of water it can occasionally receive.
There is considerable value in that approach however If I go to the relocation approach I believe that the best move is to simply relocate the garden about 50 yards due south which would place it on the near level ground just on the north side of the ridge, but if I do that I would try to move the top 8 inches or so of the soil from the present garden, because as you might suspect the soil along the ridge is poor since a lot of the good stuff has naturally washed to lower areas over the years. The necessary equipment to do that is readily available to me.
Rene Nijstad wrote:You have a lot of open space around the house so you can avoid this fight with the water.
Well If I did not already have an even larger stable pond (which came stocked with bass and crappies and bluegills)I would certainly consider what might be done with the bowl. But I really don't need the water there!. The resource is the water but not the location. or its concentration there. Hence the swale system seems the logical improvement to keep the water elswhere. I suspect that seeded to something that is grass like in nature would yield the best usage of that area as grasses will tolerate mild temporary flooding. Trees cannot go there as they would interfere with the function of the sewage lagoon which must be open to both wind and sun to function properly.
Rene Nijstad wrote: I would also seriously think how to use this water collection recourse in a better way. I think it's a blessing that you simply already have this feature in your landscape.
matt hogan wrote:I would not use fire to get rid of the weed seeds. It can mess with your soil (nutrients, soil life). After making your swales, pepper the place with seeds from nitrogen fixers .......
Quite certain, for two reasons if no other.
Miguel Henriques wrote:.....I understand you might have different plans for the area, but as someone suggested before, are you sure you don't want an extra lake/pond??
But moving the water away is not the issue at all. I simply do not want it to arrive there in the first place. I want it to simply stay pretty much where it fell. It would be useful to me there and for that reason I want to build swales that will keep it on the "grassy field" That is where I need it. To allow the water to all run into the "bowl" is to lose it after about a week. I know this water is "run off water" because I have gone out in the rain, and right after the rain; and watched it flowing out of the grassy field ,and into the "bowl". It is nice to have plenty of water but letting it go there and accumulate temporarily simply does no good.
Miguel Henriques wrote:From my experience, it's always w-a-y easier to work with water then try moving it away.
Dave Dahlsrud wrote:Nice looks like you're ready to throw down some cover crop seed and plant some trees!
Tyler Ludens wrote:Is there a particular reason why you want to remove the rocks?
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