I was hoping for some feedback on a site where I would like to put in a permaculture orchard. I have attached a topographical pic of the area where we want to do it. It is fairly flat, full of clay and the lower right corner where the 'W' is has a lot of standing water in the spring / fall.
I am located in Southern Ontario / Canada.
In the pic below - the arrows show direction of slope. The box around the existing paddock is where we want to plant the small orchard. The star in the top left of the paddock is the highest point and the hashed area in lower right with the W gets the most surface water standing after rains, and in spring and fall due to snow melt, rains etc.
Yes swales are great but I do not struggle for water to much (see 2nd picture). It rains in spring somewhat in summer and in fall and snows in winter and I have a lot of clay and my ground is fairly flat so there is not loads of surface fun off as there are in areas that are hilly or mountainous. Also - in the bottom right where the solid blue circle is, is approximately where I am standing where the 2nd pic was taken - facing back toward the road. This was mid march this year and the water sat for about 2 to 3 weeks (not the best for fruittrees).
Granted - even with the gradual slope, having lots of clay did cause some surface run toward the lower section where the hashed area in the picture is, but not like in some steeper areas of my farm. Come summer, we do get some hot days for fairly extended periods and if the ground is exposed - the clay bakes and cracks and goes hard.. until the rain.
Another consideration, I was thinking of splitting the area in basic quarters with the top left quarter being a vegetables and herbs etc and the rest trees, fruit trees, nitrogen fixes, long flowering trees for pollination (honeylocust for example) and some nut trees.
Things I am wanting to incorporate would be lots of wood chips (PTO Chipper for tractor is on the way) water harvesting to restore the hydro logical balance and have water move through the landscape, not run off and sit in the lower area...
the yellow line is the only contour that shows on the county maps. Google earth doesnt even show this one.
Any suggestions / feedback would be great. I don't want to just put trees in rows as this possibly wont be the best (think Sepp Holzers Desert or paradise book where he redesigned an orchard that was losing nutrients due to this) but that said, looking at my contour, there isn't much slope.
So would swales be best, or just use boomerang swales around the trees? I could also possibly use net and pan and then fill it with wood chips and have the water percolate through. I would want it somewhat structured to make harvesting easier as opposed to having circular bed design etc.
The second pic gives an idea of how flat the area is where the water sits.
That low spot looks like an excellent spot for a small pond to collect any excess water. I'd still suggest you make swales or basins for the trees, if you everexperience droughty conditions, which it sounds like you do in Summer. This way you can avoid having to irrigate much. You might even be able to get a little solarpump to move water from the pond up to irrigate special plants during dry periods.